Tag Archives: focus

Attention and Choice

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Whatever you focus on you will experience.
It’s that simple.
Focus on joy, you will be joyful.
Focus on anger, you will be angry.
Focus on depression, you will be depressed.
If you find yourself in a place you don’t want to be,
Ask yourself, “How do I want to feel?”
and think about the conditions
that would evoke that feeling.
Our imaginations can be used
to create or destroy,
to heal or to harm,
to inspire or deflate.
It all comes down to your attention,
and your choice.*

*Just to clarify, I’m not saying it’s easy. In fact, training the mind to focus is one of the most challenging feats a human can perform. But it IS simple. If you choose, you can tune into your power and decide how you want show up in the present moment. If enough people decide that they want to show up as peace, we’ll create a peaceful world.

Parenthetical Nonsense

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This afternoon I was really wallowing
in self-pity.
(Hey, at least I can see it.)
I was feeling sorry for myself,
lonely, listless, lethargic, worthless,
abandoned, powerless, broken.
And it finally struck me…
If this is my rock bottom,
then I’m doing pretty well.

I mean…
I’m safe, warm and dry in a home
(even if it’s going into foreclosure
and I have no idea how much longer
I’ll be here).
I have plenty of food available,
electricity, running water, a car that works.
I love my work as a yoga teacher
(even if I am not currently being paid enough
to support myself and my two children).
I have so many books chock full of information
right at my fingertips; I can read and learn.
I can write.
I can reach out to a friend
(even if Depression lies to me
and tells me that no one cares).
And I realized that this is all about focus.
Which thoughts am I focusing on and believing?
And can I focus on thoughts that will help?
I can try to shift my mind
(even if I have tried and tried a million times
and I keep ending up back here).
I can put one foot in front of the other.
I can breathe.
(even if I doubt this will ever change).
Clearly, I need to focus on facts
and ignore the parenthetical nonsense
(even if it seems impossible in this moment).

Choose Empowerment

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It’s a constant struggle between my past and my future.
The past is familiar; it leaps up into my consciousness
and makes itself seen and felt again and again and again.
The future is unknown; it’s the stuff hoped for
and requires faith and focus to keep my vision clear.
I pray for the stamina to keep reinvesting my energy in my future,
to draw my attention back to the good things to come.
I pray for the time when his choices aren’t ricocheting in my mind
they way they’ve done for over a year—
and it’s been quite an interesting year.
Each day, I discover, I make a choice.
I can choose victimhood or empowerment;
but it’s always my choice.
May I always choose empowerment.
Amen.

Just This Once

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I discover that
when I breathe more
I enjoy life more.
I relax,
my body feels good,
I have energy.
I’ve been working on
establishing a deep, slow,
steady breath
for years now and
I know that it feels good
when I breathe consciously.
So the work becomes
remembering to breathe
during the day.
Thank you, oh mind,
for giving me the gift
of conscious breathing
in this moment.
Thank you for waking up from the trance
long enough to remember
to breathe just this once.

Can You Sing this Song Too?

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The story was
I am tired
But there was a lot to do,
so I pushed through.
As I completed task after task,
I began to wonder
Where does the mental fatigue end
and the true physical fatigue begin?

There is something that was tired in my mind
It wanted me to be able to rest,
to just lie there and do nothing,
to not have to be so responsible.

But this is the same part of me
that would tell me that I wasn’t a good mother or wife
If I didn’t do the dishes, the laundry, the vacuuming,
the meal preparation, the organization, the tidying.
I chose to not be caught in that old trap,
because I’ve been there many times before.
It taught me what I needed to know,
and now I don’t need it anymore.

My job today was to focus on the task in front of me
And this is what I did
The story
I’m tired
Began to melt away
as I forgot myself in the present moment.

I accomplished more than I thought possible
with no stories, no resentment,
no feelings of being put upon
or keeping a tally
or being entitled to something better
than what this moment offers.

And now, at the end of the long day,
here I am,
suddenly with some time to myself.
My mind wasn’t burdened with those old stories today
And so now there is lightness, and space,
and the energy to sing my true song–
one of the lightness of being,
of gratitude, infinite energy,
contentment, peace.

Breathe deeply and slowly
and you will hear it too

My song is the same as yours
the same as all the world
as all the universe.
It is the song of being,
there is only one song.
Can you listen–
and with your silence,
can you sing this song too? 

One-Pointed Attention

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Note:  I began this post yesterday but had to stop halfway through it to write the post I ended up publishing;  yesterday’s post is background info needed for part of today’s post to make sense.  

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March 5, 2014

This morning’s meditation perplexed me.  I had terrible trouble focusing, more trouble than normal.  I really didn’t understand why I was having such a hard time keeping my mind on the inspirational passages I’ve memorized.  If you are curious about the kind of meditation I do, read this.

Because I’m working through step 3 of the Twelve Steps this month, I affirmed in my mind in a prayerful sort of way, God, I turn this meditation over to you.  Do with it what you will.  I turn my mind and my concentration over to you.  Do with them what you will.

I must’ve repeated I’m turning this meditation over to you God  six times in thirty minutes.  Each time I became aware of the fact that I had lost focus and was off target, I felt so lost in my sea of thoughts that all I could really do was pray.  Although my mind wasn’t as still as I would’ve liked, I wasn’t aware of the passage of time and was surprised when the bell rang.  In my experience it’s always a good sign to lose awareness of time passing during meditation–it means that I’ve slipped into the field of being, into the eternal present moment, and it’s a relief to be liberated, if only for a brief window of time.

After meditation was over, I sat a moment longer and asked the Teachers how I can improve my ability to focus.   This is what they said:

You ask how you can develop the ability to concentrate, how to sustain your focus over prolonged periods of time.  We invite you to practice one-pointed attention in each moment of your day so that you may carry this one-pointedness with you into meditation.  Today we invite you to slow down and give all of your attention to the task that is directly in front of you, to practice focusing on it, and to identify when you have lost focus, that you may call it back.  It is a  practice that extends beyond your thirty minutes of seated meditation.  It is a practice that will assist those thirty minutes in feeling deeper, more meaningful, more transformative.  Slow down today, and give your attention to what is directly in front of you.  Grow in this ability to focus in the rest of your life, and you will bring this focus to your seated meditations.

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March 6, 2014

What the Teachers said made a whole lot of sense to me, so I began in that moment practicing one-pointedness in the most literal way I could think of.  As I walked down the stairs from my meditation room, I repeated to myself, Walking. Walking. Walking.

I went over to the kitchen counter to make a cup of tea. Each little thing I did, I would try to articulate it in my mind, to stay present, to be with what I was doing both in body and mind. Opening the cabinet. Reaching. Taking a mug. Turning. Pulling the handle of the water filter. Filling mug with water. Turning. Opening electric kettle. Pouring water in kettle. Closing lid. Pushing power button. Reaching. Holding tin of tea bags.  Pulling lid off tin. Reaching for a teabag.  Putting tea bag in mug. Pouring hot water over tea bag…

Just like in meditation, if I noticed my mind was wondering away, I began repeating exactly what my body was doing in that moment. Taking a step. Taking another step.  Sitting down. Breathing in. Breathing out.

The simplest of morning routines, I discovered, involves the most miraculous orchestrated movement of muscles and bones in my body, coordinated by impulses traveling through my nerves, transmitted by my brain that had the thought about what it wanted the body do.  Broken down into so many steps, it was difficult for the every day chatter of my mind to make itself heard.  I was experiencing present moment awareness.

Then the kids and the husband woke up, and with the added movement and noise it was difficult to sustain the awareness I was attempting to cultivate.  Every once in a while during the day I would come back to it and begin again, articulating in my mind whatever my body was doing.

Today is day two of this practice.  I figure that if I eat when I’m eating, if I brush my teeth when I’m brushing my teeth, then I’ll actually meditate when I’m meditating.

Typing at the keyboard. Sitting in bed. Breathing in. Breathing out. Petting the cat. Hearing my daughter turning the pages of a book. 

Seeing that all is well.  Feeling grateful.

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 Eknath Easwaran is a dearly loved and celebrated meditation teacher who knew how to walk his spiritual talk. If you want to read Easwaran’s argument for one-pointed attention, read this.