Attention

Maureen Frank, "Neural Pathways"

Nicholas Carr asks what the internet is doing to our brains.  His answer: rewiring it for easy distraction.  He observes that the way we read online–with constant distractions–is actually changing the way our neural pathways work, with the resulting effect of limiting our ability for sustained attention to a long reading.

It is good to remember that spirituality is a series of practices that allow us to pay attention to God.  God’s always there, but we get easily distracted.  And the more we get distracted, the easier it is to get distracted.  Distraction itself has become our practice.

The answer, of course, is the opposite practice of attentiveness.  Pray the Examen every day.  Practice lectio divina.  Practice meditation on icons.  Practice anything that allows you to sustain a meditative, contemplative attention–what Walter Burghardt called “a long, loving look at the real.

God is in the loving look at the real.  Paradoxically, he’s also in the things that distract us; it’s we ourselves who get lost in distraction.

About Tim Muldoon 115 Articles
Tim Muldoon, Ph.D., is the author of a number of books, including The Ignatian Workout, Longing to Love, and Living Against the Grain, as well as many essays. He is the Director of Mission Education at Catholic Extension Society.

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