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  • An Exercise in Attention
  • Guided by Wakes Willner
  • #transcript


[00:00:00.00] [MUSIC PLAYING]


[00:00:06.42] WAKES WILLNER: Hi, my name is Wakes. Please allow me to guide you. This is an exercise in attention, what we pay attention to and what we pay attention for. Let us begin. Please hold your hands in front of you with your palms to the sky. Have you ever memorized the lines on your hands? Go and try. It’s hard, isn’t it? So many wrinkles of past memories.


[00:00:45.85] If you’re willing and able, try walking on your tiptoes. Are you holding your breath? It’s hard not to, isn’t it? OK, relax and let go. Look around and see if you can find a leaf or a plant. Go to it. Get very close to it, as close as you can. Are you touching it? Are you moving it with your breath?


[00:01:23.09] Have you ever memorized the lines on a leaf, the exact shade of green of a blade of grass? Go and try. It’s hard, right? This is an exercise in attention. Go for a small, slow walk. Notice a person. Notice another person. Notice one tiny detail about a stranger.


[00:01:55.15] Find a place where you can sit down. Maybe on the ground? Yes, if you are willing and able, please sit on the ground. Draw a circle on the ground with your finger. Then, again, small circle. Round and round with your finger.


[00:02:20.69] What is inside the circle you created? Particles of dirt? If you’re lucky, an ant, a stone. Memorize what is held in your circle. Is it hard? It is, isn’t it? Is it beautiful? Well, I think of everything as beautiful. If you find it beautiful, give it a round of applause. Thank you, tiny circle, for all that you hold.


[00:02:53.81] You can stand up now. Take a tiny walk if you like. Did you know that there are 8 billion people on the planet? Take a moment to smile at someone you don’t know. Now, before we end, find a place to take off your shoes. If you can, stand there with your feet on the ground. Take a breath.


[00:03:25.19] I have memorized a few things. What have you memorized? What do you hold on to? When I was very young, my uncle Duane died. I asked my mom if his body disappeared when he died. I asked my mom if his shadow disappeared when he died. Are you still standing there with your shoes off? If you are able, walk backwards very slowly and carefully. Keep going. Be careful.


[00:04:02.78] Sometimes I walk backwards and pretend time is moving backwards with me. Maybe walking backwards is a time machine. Is your body making a shadow anywhere? Have you ever memorized your shadow? It’s hard, isn’t it? Maybe it’s easy. Maybe you already have. What do I know?


[00:04:28.94] OK, you can relax now. Maybe you can go back and put your shoes on because you probably have to walk forwards now and go to class or dinner or call your mom or go see a show. Breathe deeply while you put on your shoes. Maybe you want to look up at the sky. This is an exercise in attention. That’s it for now. That wasn’t hard, was it?