The Gift of Attention

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Australian author John Tarrant wrote, “Attention is the most basic form of love. Through it we bless and are blessed.” There is no greater gift we can give our loved ones than our full attention. Material gifts may end up filling up our garages, but pure loving attention creates an endurable connection. We live in a world where so many things compete for our attention, from social media and a 24-hour news cycle to our bottomless task lists. We often need gentle reminders to come back to the present and reconnect with our beloved in a way that restores and refreshes our love.

One simple way to mindfully connect with your partner is to take a few minutes each day to have a mindful conversation. First, make eye contact and smile. Look at your beloved with an open heart and mind, as if you were seeing them for the first time. Be aware of each other’s presence, without judgment or comment. Pay attention to your breath—it can be an anchor that holds you firmly in the present moment.

Next, if you feel the need to speak, do so with an open mind and heart. How often do we approach our beloved from a place of criticism and judgment? Let’s attempt something different. Become curious about your partner’s words, as if someone you really admired were speaking. Let mindfulness guide you to deeper levels of conversation.

Many couples report how difficult this exercise can be, at least at first, because it makes us aware of how inattentive we usually are. It can also feel uncomfortable to open ourselves up, to be vulnerable. Not having a ready answer on deck for our partner’s every word can also be a challenge. The good news is if both partners are mindful of this resistance and hold it gently, they often report more intimacy than they have ever experienced together. This is the precious gift that our full presence can bestow on our beloved.

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