Hemingway and mindful attention

Despite his reputation as a rogue, Ernest Hemingway advocated mindful techniques for writing and for living, and he offers good advice on how to be considerate to others.

 

Hemingway and mindful attention
photo credit: runneralan2004 via photopin cc

When people talk listen completely. Donʼt be thinking what youʼre going to say. Most people never listen. Nor do they observe. You should be able to go into a room and when you come out know everything that you saw there and not only that. If that room gave you any feeling you should know exactly what it was that gave you that feeling. Try that for practice. When youʼre in town stand outside the theatre and see how people differ in the way they get out of taxis or motor cars. There are a thousand ways to practice. And always think of other people.’

Ernest Hemingway. Monologue to the Maestro: A High Seas Letter.

 

‘With mindful attention, we bring a nonjudging, open attitude to our experience. We also refer to this way of relating to feelings and thoughts as acceptance, defined as opening to up and allowing your experience to be exactly as it is, without trying to avoid it, escape it or change it.’

Jan E. Fleming and Nancy L. Kocovski. The Mindfulness and Acceptance Workbook for Social Anxiety and Shyness – Using Acceptance and Commitment Therapy to Free Yourself from Fear and Reclaim Your Life.

Ernest Hemingway in the moment

A writer has to learn to feel the present moment in order to reproduce the sounds, actions and emotions for the reader.

Hemingway on his boat the Pilar
Hemingway on his boat, the Pilar

Watch what happens today. If we get into a fish see exactly what it is that everyone does. If you get a kick out of it while he is jumping remember back until you see exactly what the action was that gave you that emotion. Whether it was the rising of the line from the water and the way it tightened like a fiddle string until drops started from it, or the way he smashed and threw water when he jumped. Remember what the noises were and what was said. Find what gave you the emotion, what the action was that gave you the excitement. Then write it down making it clear so the reader will see it too and have the same feeling you had.’

Ernest Hemingway. Monologue to the Maestro: A High Seas Letter.

‘To allow ourselves to be truly in touch with where we already are, no matter where that is, we have got to pause in our experience long enough to let the present moment sink in; long enough to actually feel the present moment, to see it in its fullness, to hold it in awareness and thereby come to know and understand it better. Only then can we accept the truth of this moment of our life, learn from it, and move on.’

Jon Kabat-Zinn. Wherever You Go, There You Are