The premise of the attention economy is that a wealth of information creates a scarcity of attention. We live in a world of noise with more and more marketing, social media, emails, books, advertising, netflix series and all these things compete for our distracted attention. We have YouTube, facebook, instagram and netflix to hold our attention. Every sixty second on YouTube there are 300 new videos uploaded. Instagram users posted 14 billion heart emojis in 2018. There are over 3 million likes on facebook a minute. Netflix users are watching 165 million hours a day.
We are told that we have less attention than a goldfish. Our attention span has gone down from 12 seconds in 2002 to 8.5 seconds 2013. However, we are training in a system that is developing our attention and our capacity to stay.
When we practice yin yoga we choose to place our attention in our body and on our breath for five minutes at a time. We choose to stay for awhile. In addition to that, in this world of coming and going, pursuing, profit and loss, our success and value is dependent on others liking us. Within the philosophies of Tibetan Buddhism in which I study we believe that each person is born inherently complete and enough. We are born capable of being attentive. However, somewhere along the line, we are conditioned out of this inherent knowledge. It is a vicious cycle that stresses out our minds, our bodies and causes us to spend our precious time in pursuit of external circumstances that will not make us happy.
When we practice yin yoga, we follow the principles of yin to return to our own basic goodness and our own inherent attention.
When we choose an appropriate edge, we recognize that we, as much as anybody else deserve our own non abandoning attention. And so we pay attention to how our poses feel physically, mentally, emotionally, energetically and spiritually. Sometimes that may mean going a little more deeply into the pose and sometimes that may mean backing off from the pose. If we are constantly pushing ourselves too much that will cause us to feel broken, depleted and not good enough. If we offer ourselves too much comfort we will become complacent and fragile. When we attend to our pose with just the right edge we will find the balance between comfort and challenge.
In the attention economy technologies are designed to increase arousal states so that you continue to pay attention and when you are not paying attention you will fear missing out. In yin yoga we can be with that edge knowing that we do not need to perform or achieve or be witnessed accomplishing, simply being who we are in the moment does not let others down.
Practicing stillness allows us to take a step away from those knee jerk reactions that we may have been conditioned to respond to with our phones and social media and so we let go of fidgeting, of needing to constantly do something, of needing to intensify the experience and needing to escape thought, emotions, sensations, energy. Instead we soften and are still.
Finally we stay for awhile. In yin yoga we get to practice being with our discomfort five minutes at a time. We believe that we can somehow escape stress, anxiety, gain and loss if only we could get from here to there, if only we could become something else, if only we had. When we gather our attention on one yin yoga pose, five minutes at a time, we open to our capacity to offer ourselves non abandoning attention and our happiness becomes a function of our beingness.