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216 × 138 mm
224 pages
01 May 2017

Attention Beyond Mindfulness Gay Watson

Attention is central to everything we do and think; yet it is usually invisible, transparent, lost behind our fixation with content. We pay attention to this and that moment or we let our attention wander, but we rarely give attention to the process of attending and distraction. It is typically viewed instrumentally, in terms of what it can achieve, and so its process and practice are overlooked, yet it is central to neuroplasticity – the brain’s ability to create new neural pathways in order to adapt – and underlies both the mindfulness revolution and the concern about the influence of new social and digital media.

Gay Watson explores attention in action through many disciplines and ways of life, from neuroscience to surfing. The book contains interviews with, among others, John Luther Adams, Stephen Batchelor, Susan Blackmore, Guy Claxton, Edmund de Waal, Rick Hanson, Jane Hirshfield, Iain McGilchrist, Wayne McGregor, Garry Fabian Miller, Alice and Peter Oswald, Ruth Ozeki and James Turrell.

A valuable and timely account of something central to our lives yet all too often neglected, this book will appeal to all those who find their attention wandering owing to the distractions and clamour of modern life, and want to know why.

‘This is a remarkable and searching account of the meaning of attention. Gay Watson looks deeply into the practices of artists, writers and musicians and reveals the correspondences with spiritual disciplines. This is a provocative book in replacing attention at the heart of what we should care about.’ – Edmund de Waal

‘An illuminating and revealing book on the powers of attention. Read it immediately for a riveting way to exercise the muscle of the mind.’ – Wayne McGregor CBE, Resident Choreographer of The Royal Ballet

‘In this tour de force, Gay Watson weaves together profound spiritual insights, crisply clear science, and page-turning personal observations about the front edge of consciousness: how we attend to our inner and outer worlds. Since we gradually become whatever our attention repeatedly rests upon, this book also helps readers use attention more skillfully to grow more of the good inside themselves and others.’ – Rick Hanson, author of Buddha's Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom

‘An illuminating survey of approaches to the practice of attention that ranges from psychology to art, from mindfulness to music, from religion to philosophy. Interweaving conversations with personal reflections, Gay Watson opens up the field of attention for each of us to explore in a way that is suited to our passions and needs.’ – Stephen Batchelor, author of After Buddhism

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Gay Watson is the author of A Philosophy of Emptiness (Reaktion, 2014) and Beyond Happiness (2007). She lives in Devon and California.