Attention Challenges Among the Indigenous

Do You See Attention in Everyone?

by Maureen Nolan on December 6, 2011

I travel on PBS. Occasionally, by car. But usually through the nature and travel channels. Recently I ventured on U-tube to the Sierra Nevada mountains in Colombia, South America. Here, a flourishing First Nation group, the Kogi, live as an uninterrupted lineage of survivors of the Spaniard Conquistadors for over 400 years. They recently allowed a modern woman to visit and take a video of their life while they shared some of their spirituality.

During their visit, the Kogi men were noted to have a small mortar and pestle with them at all times. Their tradition requires that the men keep stoking the mortar with spit throughout the day in order to build up layers of shell calcium. There is an intrinsic value, probably spiritually motivated that keeps the tradition alive. In addition, the women cultivate cocoa leaves to give the men before they sleep at night. This routine is used with the admonition for the men to reflect on what they’ve accomplished during the day and to plan what they will accomplish the next day.

My children say I see ADHD everywhere. I say, I respond to attention in all its manifestations.

My short interpretation of their cultural tradition is that the men are sedated at night by the cocoa leaves and are kept busy with the mortar and pestle throughout the day in order to focus their attention. This is a cultural and spiritual adaptation to the challenges of attention. They have survived to remember the beginning of time using these traditions. It’s brilliant.

Is this a compulsion that I see attention management everywhere? Do you?

Maureen Nolan
ADHD Coaches Organization