To Be Captivated

It has been a little over a month now that I have been simplifying and downsizing the amount of distractions in my day to day, and it is kind of hard to believe! On January first I disabled social media and throughout the month I have been cleaning, organizing, and streamlining almost every aspect of life. There have been countless layers of realization around my programming and habits but today I wanted to share one of the desires that has been revealed since this process began …

The Desire To Be Captivated

When is the last time you were truly captivated or enthralled by what you were doing? To be so enveloped in the presence of your experience that nothing else could waiver your attention? And once you can remember a time, perhaps you can recall how often that has happened as of late?

Photo: Kate Williams

Photo: Kate Williams

I know my own attention span has shortened over the years and studies show that humans on average have attention spans shorter than a goldfish (!!!!). The average humans attention must be hooked in less than 3.5 seconds on a topic to stick with it, and that we average 9 seconds of paying attention to something.

Seriously, count to 9 and see how quickly it goes by.

Life has only gotten faster in the last century and with it we have certainly sacrificed deeper knowing and understanding each and every day. We have slacked on our listening skills and on honing our ability to connect on a deeper level. We have missed countless opportunities to be captivated by a lover, a friend, a good story, a wise article, or even the environment around us because our minds are moving so rapidly to ‘keep up’ with the pace we have collectively set.

What really forced this into my awareness and really hurt my heart was when I realized in conversation with my beloved that I was consistently only half listening- and for no good reason! As we were talking it felt like half my mind would wander to other trivial things (mostly selfish things too) and I know that I missed moments of those conversations.

There are so many ways in which we allow our mind to run away from the present moment: whether its checking a phone while with a friend, multi-tasking, being surrounded by physical clutter, or over scheduling. I don’t hold this against myself or anyone, but I have seen the power of shifting just one aspect of our scattered minds and its affect on shifting others- it is much like dominos.

For me, of course the first step was getting rid of the number of distractions. That included having less outlets to be distracted like my phone and items around our home. We are pretty tidy already compared to many but those areas (especially closets and infrequently used drawers) that would nag at me are now taken care of and it has freed my hamster wheel mind. As these things fell into a slower rhythm I noticed that my ability to pay attention was increasing. Like exercising a muscle, my attention is slowly growing stronger.

If this short attention span and ‘monkey mind’ dilemma is stumping you and you’ve wanted to grow and be captivated too here are some helpful practices I have found to be tried and true:

  • When I am reading an article or a book and my mind starts to wander I look up from it, take a deep breath, and recenter myself before resuming. Sometimes even setting the intention with my mind that ‘we are reading this article/book/blog right now’ is all it takes to get focused again.

  • If I am only half paying attention in a conversation I move my eyes right into the persons across from me. As soon as you make eye contact with the one you are conversing with you can’t help but be captivated by them. One challenge with this is to realize you aren’t paying attention in the first place. To realize you are in a looped behavior is to be able to spontaneously step into the role of the Observer. Make the intention each day to be present in conversation and your Observer will have the green light to bring you into more full awareness.

  • Keep distractions at a minimum. Put the phone out of reach, on silent, and I put mine face down so I can’t see it lighting up when I am focusing on a task. Turn off music (although I love some classical or binary beats when I am working) and of course television. Close down extra tabs. Whatever it takes to give you less places to mentally hop around to.

  • Practice presence each and every day. As I mentioned before, it is truly like a muscle and most of us are experiencing ‘presence atrophy’. Whether it is a seated meditation practice or practicing any task with captivated attention you are growing stronger.

Through this awareness that has been crystallizing I realize now that I want nothing more than to be captivated. I desire to be in deep knowing with others, to witness subtleties of an experience, to understand more comprehensively. Our minds are not enemies, they are incredible instruments with limitless potential if we channel their energy effectively. Imagine a world where engagement is authentic, focused, and meaningful for all? The spontaneous and natural eruption of more compassion, understanding, and connection would radically change the way in which we exist!

And it can all begin by clearing distraction, clutter, and closing down tabs. The universe has quite the sense of humor doesn’t it? Have more meaningful relationships by eliminating the non-essential. So simple and yet so challenging sometimes- but I know we can each do it, in our own ways that feel good and aligned.

Does the idea of being captivated and captivating speak to your soul today? How can you take one step closer to being enthralled with the present moment? I’d love to hear in the comments below!