Discussion Questions, Storytelling, Sharing

  • Share a story about a time when paying attention enriched your understanding of a relationship, an event, or the natural world.
  • Talk to someone involved in martial arts — visit a class if possible — about how heightened attention is a benefit of practice.
  • Give an example of something that has flourished because of the attention you have lavished upon it.

Imagery Exercise

Rabbi Dov Baer of Mezritch, a Hasidic sage, says: "When you gaze at an object, you bring blessing to it." Here is an imagery exercise based on this kind of attention.

Close your eyes. Breathe out three long, slow exhalations. Find yourself in a familiar room in your home. Look around and observe the layout and general color of the room. Sense any smells or sounds in the room.

Breathe out one time. Now focus on one object in the room. It can be large or small. Follow your gaze to this object, seeing the blessings flowing along the beam of your attention. Then open your eyes.

Journal Exercises

  • The descriptive writing in your journal gives you insights into the quality of your attention. Read through your journal looking for entries that take you back to a specific place, time, or conversation.
  • Write a description of something or someone in the room with you: the objects on your desk, a sleeping cat, a bowl of fruit, your partner. Remember, it is not as important how well your write as how well you observe, so concentrate on recording vivid details. What shade of blue in the shirt? How strong is the smell and what is it similar to? How does the light illuminate your subject? For this journal entry, just describe a specific perception; don't reflect on what it means.