Attention is the most basic form of love - Reflections from a teen retreat

This past week I returned from teaching a 5 day residential mindfulness retreat for teens. At the beginning of the retreat, teens who brought their phones turned them in for the week. Without fully knowing, these teens committed themselves to paying attention to themselves and each other.

Shortly after arriving, the teens and adults began to acclimate to being in a new place around people they did not know, and learning and practicing mindfulness.

Through 2 hours and 15 minutes of sitting meditation and mindful walking each morning we all began to pay attention to ourselves. Through twice daily small group meetings, teens began to pay attention to each other and to see and be seen by each other.

In a short time, what happens on these retreats, began to happen. Faces and smiles became brighter, people literally let their down, transformation and healing flowed.

On the last full day of the retreat we did a relational mindful practice in pairs. This

practice was one of mindful communication, connection and deep listening. In a time in which teens and others share their deepest emotions on social media for all to see, the power of face to face attention was palpable.

This week I would like to share this relational mindful practice with everyone.

It is a natural segue to exploring how we pay attention to ourselves, and those we love.

It also brings up the inquiry of how our sitting practice relates and informs how we pay attention.

I look forward to our time together.

Do You Have Time to Love? By Thich Nhat Hanh