I have two demonstrative cats. They each seek out my affection, delighting in pets, kisses, and “I love you’s.” But what they seek out most is my ATTENTION. It’s not enough for me to pet them, I need to do it without doing anything else. If I multitask and read while I pet them, they go away. If I’m carrying on a conversation while stroking them, they go away. If I do anything other than be with them fully, they leave.
Over the years, I have found that when I give my attention to them completely, my cats and I can get into a very loving space together. I can literally feel love emanating from them to me and my love flowing to them. It’s quite profound! During these intimate moments, this love is all that exists in our world. As soon as I have a thought that pulls me out of that space, the cat comes out of that space too. When I focus back in and return to that place of only love, the cat settles back in as well. We can go on like this for quite some time. It’s usually me who draws an end to our lovefests, because of my (unfortunate) desire to be productive and “do” something.
This got me thinking about my human relationships. I’m not always totally present in conversations – especially with the person I live with. I multitask a lot, perhaps straightening up the house, playing a game on my phone, or just thinking about something else. This happens because when we live with someone, conversations come in bits and pieces throughout the day, often while we’re doing something else. It’s not like we’re meeting somewhere to have a full-on conversation, like we do with a friend.
What if I gave my person my FULL attention while we are talking, like I do with my cats? I’ve been experimenting with this with my husband, and the results are quite profound! It usually takes a concerted effort to pull my mind out from whatever I am doing to be fully present with him. It feels like I’ve been interrupted, so I need a second or two to reorient. Once my mind is unencumbered, my next challenge is to stay present with my husband and not let my mind wander off during the conversation. It’s just a force of habit that gets easier and more natural the more I do it. The other challenge is to not cut the conversation short so that I can get back to whatever I was doing before I was “interrupted.” When I can get to where I am fully present with him, I practice allowing all of my attention, all of my interest, and all of my love to flow from me to him. I practice having nothing else between us, just this beautiful flow of attention, love, and conversation. It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about the weather, house chores, the kids, or where the keys to the car are, I try to be fully present in each conversation. I find that our interactions are more intimate, more thoughtful, and, of course, more loving. Now that’s the way to be with the person I who I choose to live with!