EVERYTHING. Where you choose to pay attention makes the difference between whether you manage your life, or your thoughts, feelings, memories and desires manage to overwhelm you into doing things which on reflection you would rather not have done.
So, on World Mental Health Day, (this links to Mind, the charity) when we have good mental health what does that look like? I have seen a four point plan.
1.We can make full use of our abilities, and cope with the normal ups and downs of our life
2. We can play a full part in our families, as fathers, mothers, brothers, cousins, aunts
3. We can engage in our preferred ways with our own communities or among the people we call our friends.
4. We can do what is expected of us, both by our colleagues and ourselves, in our workplaces – in other words, set work related goals and achieve them
Sanctus, which I have been following for some time, is a great initiative for helping to establish and preserve mental health at work. They plan to put mental health gyms on every high street. More power to your elbow, James Routledge
So what is the pre-requisite ? That we know what our ‘attention’ is and we direct it to all of these things, as we wish
And how do we go about finding how to pay attention, and then what we should pay attention to? We practice being in the present moment. A little session at a time.
This is a slide I have used to explain how to begin, just by noticing the breath, or repeating an affirmation.
There is a book on the way, about the attention economy, and how individuals should be put back in charge of their own capacity to pay attention. Choice over how we can avoid being sucked into the advertising model (which is designed to steal our attention) can only be exercised, when we know the instrument we use, (our minds) and how it works. Reserve the book, if it interests you.
And then? What should we pay attention to, in particular for bringing up our children?
First, try it yourself. Then teach your children how to become aware of themselves – take a minute to find your awareness, and see it at work. How are you? Just check yourself out, once in a while.
May this World Mental Health Day raise our awareness of the need to live our lives more consciously – the ‘Notice – Process – Respond’ practice is a great one to start with. The first step of that is to learn to notice, with all our minds – self-consciously.
Let us start with taking a minute to notice our own awareness.
Make a habit of it – download it and put this one minute practice on your phone. Its a gentle start.