I'm going to keep this one short as there's already a good discussion of this practice in Pathways to Serenity (Chapter 13) and the audio series covers it as well.
We've noted numerous times that awareness is one of the characteristics of our human spiritual consciousness. It's also the first exigency in the exercising of our spirit -- Being Attentive. Just nothing else of merit can happen if we're not first paying attention, as the questioning, discerning, and responding all presuppose something we've first perceived.
You might think of attention as a spiritual muscle that can grow with exercising. Initially, it seems weak, and that we have little control over where we place our attention. Thoughts, feelings, images, plans, etc. all seem to go on without our permission - - a constant eruption of "inner noise" pulling our attention every which way. Just noticing this without getting involved in the noise can in itself be a helpful practice, enabling a more detached attitude while strengthening non-reflective awareness.
But here's the main point that will come through in the resources, and which I emphasize again, here: what we give our attention to, we energize. That's a really important principle. If you give your attention over to a fantasy, it grows stronger; same goes for other inner movements, and even for other people and the outer world. Giving your attention to someone actually does help them, and is one of the most important ways to show love for them.
Consider, now, the God who is always attending to us, and the implications regarding our existence and experience of life. Consider, too, the implications of giving your attention to the God who is attending to you. This basic, contemplative attitude can be cultivated whether one is taking a formal prayer time or is actively doing work or whatever.
Be more attentive to attending and share with us what you learn from it.
Questions and Reflection
1. What comments or questions do you have from this session and the related resources?
2. Share some of your experiences from the practices of awareness.
I might add, here, that here is one place where I think Eastern forms of spirituality -- Buddhist mindfulness practices, in particular -- can be very helpful. Some of these spiritualities have emphasized awareness much moreso than we have in Christianity, and we have much to learn from them. I do not view the clarified awareness states they describe as equivalent with Christian contemplation, even though there are many similarities. Becoming more aware -- more mindful -- is a good think in and of itself, whether worked in a context of Christian spirituality or some other context.
Perhaps some of you have experiences you can share in this regard?
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