Attentiveness is basically the awareness of something to be identified and given cognizance to. Lack of it gives rise to many problems on the personal and professional front leading to anxiety, stress, erratic sleep patterns and self-loathing.
Inattentiveness is the inability to pay attention to something for a certain period of time. It is an outcome of a restless mind teeming with thoughts (about past, future, likes, dislikes, opinions about others, etc.). The mind eventually gets trapped in its own habit pattern of overthinking and often snaps.
Inattentiveness is further exacerbated by daydreaming, addiction to substances and the act of not identifying inattentiveness as a problem.
Almost all the crisis that human beings are facing today stem out of inattentiveness. For example inattentiveness to:
- others’ sensibilities leading to conflict of opinions;
- the state of our surroundings leading to the various forms of pollution;
- One’s own need for a calm and stress-free mind, often leading to mental health issues.
Inattentiveness can also termed as a shallow sense of awareness of everything about and around oneself (awareness of reality). When one is not deeply aware of what reality really is, he gets deluded by a false sense of reality. This results in a staggered sense of morality. This whole process of not paying deep attention to reality leads to extreme short sightedness in causal terms. This causes the person to act selfishly without actually looking into the consequences of his/her actions.
- Incessant use of fossil fuels without caring for the needs of the future generations.
- Committing acts of fraud to satisfy immediate needs of oneself and family without caring about the harms caused to victims.
So we can say that selfishness is also a function of a deluded sense of reality emerging from a shallow understanding of the world. This is what inattentiveness does to the world.
Here are 5 habits to boost Attentiveness to help flower a deeper and more meaningful phase in one’s life:
Performing acts of charity, social service and helping those in need:
Inattentiveness gives rise to a shortsighted and shallow understanding of life. This germinates into a selfish and self-centered lifestyle. Acting the exact opposite i.e. compassionately and charitably can help one become less self-centered and in turn more be more attentive.
Practicing acts of temperance and moderation in life:
A shallow outlook towards life often propels one to enjoy life to the fullest by means of sensual pleasures and hedonistic ways. This paves way to a sense of void the very moment the means of enjoyment come to an end (as they say: all things, good or bad come to an end). This causes sadness and depression.
A hedonistic lifestyle emerges out of a selfish center and hovers around material objects of sense gratification. Practicing acts of temperance or moderation counters this tendency of being happy when having in the excess and being sad when having in the deficit. Mentally one becomes more stable.
The wants of excesses stem out of a selfish attitude of life. The virtues of moderation and temper counter it, leading to deeper awareness and attentiveness.
Practicing patience and forbearance in times of crisis:
Often in life, a man comes across situations which are not so favorable to him, for example a boss shouting at him for something he didn’t do.
In such situations, the first thing that a person comes out with is an equal and opposite retaliation.
This leads to further stress and anger and later sadness and regret, all of which are huge obstructions in a life of attentiveness and awareness.
Its simple wisdom that fire ignited burns for some time and extinguishes if not acted upon by any other combustible substance. Similarly an unfavorable situation is like a fire which will eventually come to an end if not retaliated upon by anger, stress or hatred (combustible substances).
This act of non-retaliation to unfavorable circumstances exhibits the virtue of patience and forbearance. It counters anger, stress and wrath (off springs of selfishness) thus in turn leading to deeper awareness and attentiveness in life.
Being mindful is the act of complete and non-judgmental awareness of the physiological processes of the body (breath, palpitations, tremors, warmness, coolness, itching, pain etc.).
It helps one be in the present moment. Living in the “now” keeps the individual shielded from fantasies and disturbing memories.
Mindfulness increases a person’s presence of mind and attentiveness along with the virtues of temperance, compassion and patience.
Equanimity is the virtue of being calm and composed in times of crisis or joy. The ability to be equanimous directly blossoms from acts forbearance and vice versa. This virtue helps a person remain unaffected by joy and sorrow alike.
The virtue of equanimity stems from the understanding that in the universe is impermanent i.e. subject to birth, death and decay. Therefore it’s is foolish to be influenced by anything.
This understanding brings calmness to the mind. The mind becomes subtle enough to grasp the bigger picture of reality. This helps a person care less about the self and more for others.
By regularly practicing these 5 habits, one can achieve a very deep and penetrating type of attentiveness.