Lesson 7: The Power of Focus

There are a LOT of buzzwords floating around in the personal development and wellness industry. SOMETIMES, we can understand something as a theory--but it doesn't really make sense how it might actually help us do life. I've been guilty of teaching a principle that I feel like I "should" teach but I only understand it conceptually. When this happens, it feels like I'm just regurgitating knowledge and hoping that no one has follow up questions. Not a GREAT feeling, if I'm honest. The last few years, I've been pretty intentional to only speak about what I have personal experience with --practicing or doing. If not, I'm happy to mention that I don't have the experience but I AM familiar with the concept (and I'm open to learning more). 

Yoga has these heady concepts and deep principles that can bring a rich understanding to our lives when we seek to make them oh-so-practical. (This juxtaposition of depth and common sense is what I love MOST in the union of spiritual concepts, mindset and strategy in the work I do with clients.) In yogic philosophy, there is the concept of dristi or focal point. In yoga, we can intentionally place the focus of our eyes on different points and experience a different experience as a result. For example, in downward facing dog: the dristi is traditionally on the naval---reminding us to tap into our innate intuition. Sometimes though, I might invite my students to shift their gaze point to the top of our mat---looking forward to where we are going. By doing so, they create a different focus and a different path of energy. Bringing the power of dristi OFF of the mat holds the same possibility and power. Where we place our focus is where we send our energy. We can shift our focus point in life and shift the direction of our energy as well. In fact, it's our responsibly to choose our focus. 

When we don't choose our focal point, our gaze is all over the place. In life, this can look like following any distraction that comes into our day. It can look like being taken off path by the latest "new thing". Accordingly, our energy is scattered, distracted and there's "too many things" or options. It's like our energy doesn't know what to GET behind because we aren't choosing. Not choosing a focal point is CHOOSING to scatter our energy. It is our "job" to choose. 

The metaphor that comes to mind is that a dristi (focal point) is what forms the river. The water is the energy. No focus? No riverbanks-- and the water flows everywhere without impact. Do this long enough and you'll feel stressed and burned out with possibility overwhelm. 

Why DON'T we choose a focus though? This question was just posed to my own coach, Steve Chandler, recently. He had a poignant story of his own--but basically stated this: choosing a focus takes a "growing up" of sorts. A realization that we can do whatever we want with our time and energy---but we can't do it all at the same time. We have to choose. I've found in my own experience that when I resist choosing, it's because we don't want to say "no". I don't want to say no because what if I limit myself? What if I choose wrong? What if I'm not happy with my choice. What if other people aren't happy with my choice? What if, what if, what if---and no responsible choice happens at all (the choosing to stay scattered, uncommitted and anxious).  But every no is also a yes to something else. By saying clearly what our focus IS, we are saying YES to energy---and also saying NO to what doesn't serve that focus. 

So, pick your focus. Not forever. Not for the rest of your life. Just today. What's yours to focus on today? Hold that gaze point and invite your energy to get behind it. Be aware of what takes you away from that focus and energy. I'll bet you see a difference. Let me know! 

Here's to your journey!