By Elena Brower
If we are to serve well in our communities and families, attention on nurturing our well-being is not a luxury, it’s a necessity. And while the practices of yoga and meditation are indeed about nurturance, we must explore a bit more deeply.
Our attention has the power to alter our health, our interactions, our relationships. Attention can both create and destroy, but it never leaves its object unchanged. It’s time for us to focus our attention on nurturance, releasing what isn’t needed in order to generate what will be of benefit.
In practical terms, granting our attention on choosing what we nurture is a practice. When we move into a yoga posture, when we settle into a contemplative prompt and begin writing, when we sit for meditation, or sit down for dinner with loved ones, we are practicing a form of nurturance. Nurturance is defined as emotional and physical nourishment and care given to someone. Affectionate care and attention. The fact of taking care of or nurturing, or the ability to do so, in both a physical and emotional manner. The ability to provide nurturance.
And it’s the quality of that attention, and the consistency with which we offer it, that makes all the difference.
This next question silences me, often.
What are you nurturing?
Is it a choice I’m making, or is it some habitual and perhaps detrimental thing I’m nurturing? Does it relate to or amplify my broader reason for being? These are broader inquiries, some of which can be answered on the yoga mat or the meditation cushion. But I find the best answers to those questions in the late evening, after reading fantastical short stories by Italo Calvino to my thirteen year old son, when we get to talking.
I ask him the same question almost every night, like I’ve been doing since he was three years old. “What could I have done better today?” Or, “was there anything I could’ve done better today?” These days we both know the answers, especially on the days when I’ve been overly reactive or sensitive. We can both call out those moments, I’ll offer a ready apology, we might even practice a do-over. Earlier in his life, he’d offer me real insight into what hurt him, and how to heal it. Since then, my choice to give him quality, consistent attention nurtures both of us, we well as his future partner and family. No small thing in this time of rampant attention thievery.
So, what are you nurturing?
Take a few moments to jot down the ways you’re placing your attention to nurture certain aspects of your living, your people, your actions, your thinking. Be certain you’re choosing well – and if not, pivot. Choose again. Be vulnerable. Be spacious. Make the practice of nurturance your friend, let it be an accomplice to you on your way each day.
Mother, teacher, author, and Double Diamond leader with doTERRA, Elena Brower has taught yoga and meditation since 1999. She is the author of Art of Attention, considered to be an essential resource for students and teachers; and also Practice You: A Journal, her recent bestseller. She contributes to Yoga Journal, Yoga International, HuffPost, MindBodyGreen, and more.