Homing Attention

3 ways I steer my attention: “empty the cup,” flash the flashlight,” “rotate the crops.”

Some say our attention is our most precious resource, yet it’s challenging because it’s easy for our attention to scatter and to be captured. The reasons are often beyond our control – an unfinished work conversation, the latest news, life …

One way I manage my attention is by emptying my mind. Imagine your attention as a cup filled to the brim with something. All you think about is that something. Meditation is like tipping the cup to pour some out, making room for new things to pay attention to.

Another way is writing. Writing is like a flashlight in a dark room. It illuminates what’s holding my attention hostage. Writing allows me to think through things and loosen things up a little bit. Sometimes, as the light reveals previously unseen parts of the room, the grind of writing sometimes let me find new focal points for my attention.

(Yes, I am writing this because I need to refocus my attention!)

Finally, consider crop rotation as a method to get a grip of our attention. Just as farmers rotate crops to regenerate depleted fields, we can plant new crops to reset our attention. Engaging in reading, exercising, or other long form activities, rather than fleeting content like short videos or social media, is like planting a new crop in my attention field. It slowly loosens the grip of whatever is capturing my attention.

How do you manage your attention?

(picture: Gerard K. O’Neill’s detailed concepts for human settlements in space)





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