As part of the preparation for a continuing education class, I am reading a book called The Grace in Dying by Kathleen Dowling Singh It is a brilliant, deep and thoughtful exploration of the transformation that happens in what the author calls the “nearing death” experience. I have started keeping a notebook next to me as I read because there are phrases in the book that I want to capture for later — little snapshots I am collecting for my own personal album.
Remember snapshots and film? When we used to take pictures without knowing what they would look like until we got the pictures back from the developer? Remember the surprise moment of seeing again those things you experienced? As I am going back to my notebook for these phrases, I am having these delicious surprise moments. When I write down a phrase, I often don’t know why it sent a hook into my attention, I just know I want to capture it. When I see it again, my eyes are new.
Here is one (where the author discusses the Surat Shabd tradition):
” . . . . attention itself, in its directed coherence, is none other than that which we call the soul.”
I wrote that down in a rush, hurrying to continue a particularly engrossing part of the book. I looked back on it this morning, and thought, “Yes!” That thing we sing songs to, go on retreats to cultivate and share only with our most intimate of friends — the soul — can be understood as focused, direct attention. This makes perfect sense to me, because I know I feel most connected when I am using my attention. When I listen intently to a friend, when I stop to examine the exact shade of red on a newly-changed leaf, when I massage. It is these moments when I am less of a lone individual walking this earth, and more of a connected, integral part of the deeper rhythms all around — what Singh calls “the ground of being.”
I am taking this idea into my work, trying to create a space where in addition to stepping out of the mad rush of life for a while, my clients can step into a connection with something beyond themselves, in whatever way makes sense to them. You have my attention.