Lately I have been noticing that if I pay attention to exactly what I’m doing while I’m doing it, my world seems very simple and eminently do-able. It doesn’t appear to matter very much what I happen to be doing, whether it’s a new to me or just routine. If I stick to attending to the present task there doesn’t appear to be anything else.
What seems to get in the way is when I try to “think about” what I’m doing or worse, get caught up in the constant stories I tell myself about success, failure, future, past, what’s next, how much time is left, how this could be easier if only, will I like or dislike this, will someone else like or dislike this, and on and on.
As much as I resist it I have to admit that thinking gets in the way much more often that it ever helps. Paying attention to the stories and so called ideas while I’m in the process of doing something literally takes me away from what I’m doing, how strange. I was brought up to place this huge premium on “Thinking” and believed that people would evaluate me on how I thought. (Like anyone could actually know unless I tell them what I’m thinking and that’s usually just an opinion. We all know about the value of opinion.)
This doesn’t mean that contemplation of something isn’t valuable, but only when it’s intentional and is the only object of attention and focus. But when DOING anything I find it valuable to avoid overthinking to the point that I drift away into the land of thoughts.
There is a Zen story about a Monk who was inquiring into the process that a “Zen Master” used to master Zen.
“Attention” said the master. The monk was confused and asked for an elaboration.
“Attention, Attention, Attention, was the Master’s reply.
I think I’m starting to get the point!
Take care of you.