Attention and Intention: Stay in Your Prayer
“We have to learn to keep our attention with our intention.”
These words were spoken to me this morning by my good friend and teacher, Redtail.
Why is that so hard? We have lost our ability to focus.
During the Sun Dance, the Dancers are expected to keep their focus in the midst of severe discomfort that includes deep thirst, hunger, and more. “Stay in your prayer!” is often heard among them.
It’s not easy.
During times of extreme difficulty, if not mundane life, our minds want to wander. “Why am I doing this?” “Wouldn’t “that” be better?” “When will this end?” “I need relief!” All these messages come from our minds; minds that need lesser and lesser amounts of discomfort to trigger itself.
You can’t blame our minds. They’re designed to protect our physical existence. The problem is, we have very few problems staying alive these days. So, the mind goes to creating more ease – and that’s a request that never ends, and that has no enduring ethic besides its own comfort.
In other words, to the ancients, we’re ALL “snowflakes.” (Please pardon the expression. I’m not a fan of it, but use it in the interest of effective communication.)
The trick is to first see this problem and admit that our minds have become our rulers.
From there, there are many things we can do to regain control of our minds. Another Teacher recently told me, “Seek the silence.” It was interesting to me that he didn’t say, “stillness.” He said silence. As I’ve implemented this advice, I’ve seen the wisdom in pursuing physical silence. For a guy like myself that is used to being “subconsciously entertained” by a radio or some kind of noise in my head all the time, some kind of distraction from my intention, actual silence has been a key to finding stillness off the meditation pillow, beyond my morning routine.
It’s a journey, the regaining of our consciousness, of our ability to concentrate our increasingly busy minds. But I believe that as we do so, and as we increase our ability to listen to our sweet souls, we will find greater peace, greater joy, and greater connection to all forms of life.
And most importantly, to our souls.