An Excerpt from To Love and Be Loved by Sam Keen

Using stories, poems and reflective exercises, Sam Keen explores 16 different elements of love from empathy to enchantment. Here is an excerpt on the spiritual practice of attention.

" * The discipline of attention begins with met-attention. Cultivate the habit of interrupting yourself to take note of what you habitually notice and what you ignore. . . .

"* Do you habitually lavish your attention on ideas? Things? Persons? Colleagues? Clients? Customers? Friends? A lover? Family? On your body, mind, spirit? The goings on in your community? God? The enemy? Money? Sports?

"* If you were to chart the changing foci of your attention during the course of the day, what would a graph look like? And if, to paraphrase Jesus, 'where your attention is, there will your heart be also,' what would your pattern of attention say about you? What priority would love have in the hierarchy of your days? How would you like to change your investments of attention, time, concern?

"* Think back to the first time you made contact with a person whom you have come to love. Remember the moment in detail, and reconstruct it as a film producer or novelist would. How was the scene lit? What caught your attention? What did you feel? Were you attracted or repulsed by your first impression? How close or distant were you from the center of the scene? What other persons were present? As you reconsider this first contact in light of what you have come to know and love about the person, were your first impressions accurate or inaccurate?"

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