August 31, 2013

Failure to Pay Full Time & Attention. ~ Joan Haskins

“The most precious gift we can

offer anyone is our attention. When

mindfulness embraces those we

love, they will bloom like flowers.”

~Thich Nhat Hanh~

In my city, and maybe yours, you can get a ticket for “failure to pay full time and attention.” It is often given in addition to the ticket you will get for running that stop sign, or going through the red light. The police officer sees that you are distracted by something other than driving—and you get a second ticket.

A ticket essentially for not being mindful.

I love it. (Although I may not love it as much if I am the recipient of one. It is, after all, another $50 tacked onto the primary infraction.)

In mindfulness terms, this would be the primary infraction. When I am doing two, sometimes three things at once, I am giving none of them my full time and attention. I find myself restless when I am talking on the phone. So I straighten up the living room, get the laundry together, or check my emails. And when I am done, the living room is tidy, the laundry is in a pile, and my emails have been read.

What about the person at the other end of the phone? She essentially got about a third of my attention. Although I think I am a master at juggling things, I know that I have not given my friend what she deserves: my full time and attention.

I have a friend who calls on the phone, but repeatedly tells me to hang on while she attends to the dog, the cat, and her teenage kids. I want to tell her, “Call me back when you have time. When you can listen. You aren’t doing us any favors. Not to mention the kids, the dog, or the cat. No one is getting your full time and attention.”

I know we can’t always be 100% present for everyone and everything we do. But we can make the effort. Our lives are so full, so busy, so crazy sometimes, we feel like we have to juggle to keep all the plates up in the air.

So back to our ticket. “Failure to pay full time and attention” can cost us a $50 fine—but it can also be the reason we hit another car, or worse. When we don’t give our full time and attention to our family, our friends, and the task at hand, we miss out. They miss out. Or worse.

I teach yoga to children. They all want my attention. It’s a challenge to give it to each child. But it can be done. Each child gets looked at, listened to, and each child is heard and seen.

For the moment that I am with that child, they have my full time and attention.

I’m learning how to do this. When a friend calls to talk, I put the computer down. I stop what I am doing to listen. The children I teach, my friends and certainly my family deserve it. As Thich Nhat Hanh says, “When mindfulness embraces those we love, they will bloom like flowers.”

Let’s give the flowers in our lives the full time and attention they deserve.


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Edited by: Ben Neal

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