Chapter 7 | Focus, Attention, Intention, Expectation

girl sitting on edge looking at sunset

I have had to ‘check’ myself every day, especially before each class or before starting a task, or preparing a meal, or making myself a cup of coffee – I realise that I have been catching myself out on the ‘small things’.  For example, having a cup of coffee and then checking my email or text messages at the same time, which means I do not really ‘enjoy’ or ‘celebrate’ the precious one or two cups of coffee per day – instead it’s swallowed without even tasting it.  It is absurd to think how often we combine so many things and lose the essence of the individual pursuit which results in losing the essence of all of it.  It leaves a feeling of emptiness and dissatisfaction.

It made me think of the beauty and privilege of being able to pay attention to ‘one thing at a time’. Imagine having 5 little children, like my brother and his wife; imagine working in a hospital ward right now. It is surreal to think that we live a life that we have created ourselves but on many levels we still have to teach ourselves to pay attention. I realise now that I really only paid attention where my work was concerned, and that too was beset with distractions….

We had an online team meeting on Friday, to catch up, to share our experiences and to see one another’s smile. We are such a close team and it is so important for all of us to stay connected. Seb shared how he missed ‘tactile contact with his Client’s, how he could not wait to get back to the Studio and be able to treat them hands-on.  Marco and I  spoke about the gift of learning and expanding our own teaching capacities through the online process – how it is all about the ‘essence of the teaching’, how much less time we are able to spend making ‘people feel comfortable’ and the realisation of how much time we have spent to help people to be comfortable in the past.  Now people have to learn to do that themselves.  That is exciting; it’s exciting to know that during this time we are learning to help ourselves better, to be more efficient in taking care of ourselves and how to adapt. The level of our expectations seem to be lower and more realistic. I love how there is less focus on ‘entertainment’ and now more focus and attention on ‘the process’ – for example entering a stretch, mobilising a joint. Being actively part of the process, with your full attention, and having a clear intention is truly energising. It creates a sense of space, a sense of calmness and a deep sense of satisfaction.

I had a conversation with a friend yesterday. I was very honest with her about whose interaction I had found really rewarding during the week. They were all active listeners. I told her how astonished I was of how few people there are that can actually genuinely still listen. I laughed and told her not to be too aware, because she would be doomed if she is. I also warned her that I don’t think she will ever be able to go ‘back’ – once she has the awareness.

I lived in a cocoon. I saw patients every hour of my life, for most of my working day. My phone was switched off during my session; it’s only the patient and I in the room, and I got paid to listen and to pay attention. This time however, it’s a bit like being released from ‘work jail’, or from a ‘work institution’ of ‘how to conduct yourself by the hour’… It is crazy out there man, all talking together, interacting, relating back to themselves so often – phone interruptions, mobile phones and landlines with intercoms going off, kids screaming in the background. I do think we live in a bit of a madhouse.

I think of my granny, alone on her farm, in the Drakensberg mountains in South Africa. She had so much space and time. Her books, her garden, her sewing, baking, chatting to friends; a child, a grandchild, a great-grandchild, filling in her crossword puzzles in her weekly magazine, listening to her frequency radio, watching her soap opera at 6pm every day the ‘Bold and Beautiful’. She was the most self-reliant, most content, loving, giving, satisfied and ‘humble yet proud’ woman I have ever known. I often asked her (I always tried to call her on Sunday’s when I was at University) if she was not lonely? She regularly replied that she had so much to do, that it might get a bit quiet at times, however she never felt lonely. She lived for 17 years after my grandfather had passed away. She became a ‘grandmother’ and ‘mother’ to every person that met her – all our friends, my mother’s friends and extended friends adopted her. She was our Mother Theresa.

I think of her every day (her photo is next to my bed), especially now, and I often think, ‘you would have been so fine during this time, nothing in your life would have really changed’. I think my granny lived a bit of magic, life from within…. I want a bit of ‘granny life’ for the rest of my life.

For us, for you, when there is very little time for you to pay attention, then consider getting up 30-45 minutes earlier each day. Make that your quiet, paying attention moment each day – for me, it has been the biggest transformation during the last 2 weeks. I won’t sacrifice that ‘little bit of extended magic’ for anything; universe hear me say this. That 30 minutes of ‘me time’ helps me connect with the best version of me, and that version then can connect to the world, the people, the friends, the family, the partner.

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