Updated: Jul 17, 2020
“... attention is a state of openness that assumes there is something new to be seen.” - Jenny Odell, How To Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy
Mindfulness meditation, focusing the attention, is about curiosity. Being curious to examine the nature of your own experience, of your own thoughts and feelings. To accept it without judgment; experience it without trying to alter it.
You cannot change how you feel by trying not to feel that way. You can only try to expand your perspective.
Ever try not to cry? Or tell yourself you shouldn't feel so angry? The added tension of trying not to feel almost always accomplishes just the opposite, serving to ratchet up the intensity. You cannot change how you feel by trying not to feel. You can, however, try to expand your perspective, to be curious about the full nature of the feeling. To dive in where most are just trying to frantically stay afloat. And it's expanding perspective, not changing it, because you’ll still feel how you feel. You just might start to feel some other way also, if you can stay curious.
As humans, we are capable of feeling multiple, conflicting things simultaneously. In fact, we always do. Every moment is some shifting balance of contentment and dissatisfaction, of gratitude for what we have, but still wanting something more. Indeed, both are essential to happiness, and that is the paradox of being human. Learning to live with that paradox is the essence of the practice of meditation.