As you look at these words, you have probably scrolled down here from somewhere else, and may be on your way to scroll further ahead to another set of words. Or perhaps a click has opened up this window for you, and the mind is partly edging towards where to go next.
I request you to pause for a few moments and imagine.
Imagine holding a baby in your arms.
Imagine how you look at his face, his eyes. Feel the touch of his hands. This new being has come into this world. Life, as it begins, in its most primary stage, yet to take full form, invites us to attend powerfully. To be present.
There probably isn’t a line of babies to scroll from into this baby, and another line after this baby waiting. There is just you and him.
Perhaps in your imagination, you can also see if the baby’s being conveys an emotion. Is he calm and happy, or is he uncomfortable and anxious.
Now come back to this screen, these words. In a world where so much of our communication is through screens, and through words on screens, it can be difficult to be deeply present to the other, as they convey themselves to us through their face and voice, or through their words.
We are more connected than ever, we have an unending list of posts, e-mails, messages to read and reply to. Yet, it is difficult to be deeply present to any of them.
Often, the options offered for a response – like, love, ‘emojis’, along with a count of the number of people who have responded – all diminish our presence to the other rather than amplify it.
Yet, we itch to connect, and thus go back to this virtual world, scroll, read, respond, perhaps never to satisfaction.
Technology, often, has us, rather than us having it.
Coming back to the baby – when you pay attention, you see his eyes and take in his gaze.
You hear the sounds he makes.
You feel his soft touch.
You feel his body, you know if he is still, or restless.
Perhaps along with these sensations, as if riding them, is an emotional state the baby conveys to you. Perhaps he is feeling just alright, or perhaps he is a bit unsettled.
Thus, you absorb his presence.
Attention, therefore, is simply the act of being present to what is here, in you and outside you.
There are mothers and fathers who are scarcely present. The moment the baby makes a little sound of discomfort, they find the bottle and put it in his mouth. The sound goes away, the responsibility is discharged.
Connecting in an overconnected world, then, is a matter of being present in a world of absence.
When we are present to another, a world of vivid sensations opens up to our vision, hearing, touch. With them, an emotional state unfolds to us, from that person, and from ourselves.
As we are completely with this universe that is unfolding between the self and other, we are present. Because we are present, we are connected.
The baby whose parents were not deeply present, will not have his vulnerability attended to. In the absence of an other who is deeply present, he will need to learn to deal with his anxiety at being a small creature in a vast world by himself. Inevitably, he will deal with it by suppression, to begin with.
The degree to which we suppress our pain chronically is the degree to which our mental health suffers.
Now, attend to how your lungs take in the air around you.
Attend to the colour of the page on which you read this text.
Attend to the light in your room, light that comes in from the sky, and how it feels different on the surface of your eyes than the light from your screen.
Attend to your emotional state.
Perhaps you are more present now than you were when you began to read this post.
Perhaps we have made a connection.
If so, I am happy that you read the post and found it valuable.
If not, thank you still for reading, and I hope to reach you more deeply next time.