New Year’s Resolution 2020: Learn to Pay Attention

If you’re an avid reader, you probably think about books a lot: you think about what you’re currently reading (you love it, you hate it, you wonder what will happen next, you don’t care what will happen next, what you plan to read next—I need a book, I already have three books), or what you should read (my best friend recommended this one, my hairstylist that one, my teacher the next one). If you’re a writer, the internal chatter is much the same. This is what the Buddhists call “monkey mind” and both avid readers and passionate writers seem to suffer from it.

Your mind is always moving: the thoughts are chattering away, unbidden.  Ideas fill your head from morning until night. 

Is it possible to stop that internal chatter? Do you even want to stop it? That depends.

If you’re a reader, from time to time you do want to slow those thoughts down so that you can truly savour the book you have in your hands. You need to be able to focus.

If you’re a writer, you need to stop the chatter so that you can capture the new idea to start the writing process. How do you do that?

Well, some of us here at Moonlight Press have taken meditation classes which we recommend trying, but it’s not absolutely necessary. There are other ways.

Here’s the thing: to truly slow your mind so that you can focus on or capture ideas, you simply need some techniques that help; you to quiet your mind and, perhaps even more to the point, pay attention.  According to research, a wandering mind is one of the characteristics that make us human.  However, it is also what makes us unable to be attentive. 

One idea is to learn a new skill. For example, you could take a drawing class.

To be a visual artist, you have to be very observant. Even if your artwork resembles Picasso’s later works with all of the deconstructed images, you still need to be keenly observant. If drawing doesn’t appeal to you, try learning to knit or sew. Both of these require attention to detail and mental focus. Or you could learn the fine details of photography – learn about light and composition and point of view instead of all that pointing and shooting that everyone does with their smartphones.

As a reader, it will make the experience of reading that much more delicious. As a writer, you’ll be able to pay attention to the world around you and capture those ideas. Here’s to 2020 vision that is able to see the details!