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Inattention On the Internet and In Our Lives

February 20, 2009

Visualization of the various routes through a portion of the Internet. From Wikipedia.One of the most unfortunate things about the Internet is the lack of attentiveness that many people demonstrate when “surfing” or when talking with one another on various Internet forums. Many of us are in such a hurry to get some information, accomplish some goal, or have people agree with our assumptions and viewpoints, that we often lose ourselves entirely in stress and anxiety or become so distracted by what’s next that we are unable to be present to what is right in front of us.

Inattention is rampant not only on the Internet but in almost every area of everyday life. Many of us move through our lives so quickly (which is reflected in our fast upper chest breathing), that any real connection with ourselves, our friends, our families, and our environments is next to impossible. Inattention in one person causes problems and wasted time not only for that person but also often for numerous others. For anyone who wishes to live a more intelligent, conscious, or spiritual life, the study of attention is crucial. Our attention is what connects us with the world in and around us. Without it, we are simply sleep walkers, experiencing little more than tiny fragments of ourselves, and out of touch with the energies and rhythms of wholeness and relationship.

If you feel called to do so, you can begin the study of attention right now, right here. Allow yourself to slow down enough while reading this so that you can be attentive to your posture and how you are breathing. Without any judgment or analysis, take a kind of inner snapshot of yourself and how you feel at this moment. Be sincere in your observations. Notice any unnecessary tension or nervousness in your body/mind. Are you tense, relaxed, angry, anxious, worried, in a hurry? Is your breathing narrow and constricted, or is it free and open? As you become more attentive to what is going on inside you, you may begin to hear a voice from your heart, or from some other more-central place in yourself, giving you a new, more-complete perspective on your situation. The voice may tell you to take your time reading and simply experience what is being said. Or it may even tell you to stop reading, get off the Internet, take a walk, and just breathe. Or it may tell you to sit quietly for a few minutes and ask yourself what is really important in your life. Whatever the voice has to say, the key is to listen, to pay attention.

As you try this work as often as possible over a period of days, weeks, and months, you will begin to understand what the great spiritual masters mean when they tell us that we live mostly in dreams, with little direct contact with reality. You will also begin to understand what they mean when they tell us that self-knowledge and self-transformation begin at the very moment that we sense and feel our inattentiveness in relation to the things we are doing. It is this experience, if we allow its significance to touch the various sides of our being, that can begin to awaken us and bring us into a more honest relationship with ourselves and others.

Copyright 2009 by Dennis Lewis

One Comment leave one →
  1. February 22, 2009 9:17 am

    My inattention arises when I have too many choices, too many “things to do,” and/or unclear goals–at these moments anxiety often arises in me which causes even more inattention and rushing into the future.

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