Good grief it’s been a long time since I’ve posted! Global travel and homecomings sure have a way of making a girl busy, and with that pesky 24-hour limit to the day (and the need to account for sleep, which I seem to forget about) it’s been a bit rough trying to fit this blog back into my routine. Also, I’ve been dealing with some big frustrations with my video quality and nothing seems to be helping. Hopefully I’ll get a chance over the next few days to update this with a short video on a little focus exercise I like to do in classes, but it ain’t gonna be super pretty and clear (and I just have to deal with that).
Seriously though, I’m really wanting to refocus on this blog, on sharing with you all the things that I’m working on with my classes and in my life. Those of you who don’t take class with me can still connect and get hopefully some inspiration to help with your own practice, and those of you who do take class with me can get a little reminder of some items we covered during practice and dharma. So, that’s my topic today – focus!
“Drishti (view or gaze) is a specific focal point that is employed during meditation or while holding a yoga posture. The ancient yogis discovered that where our gaze is directed our attention naturally follows…”
— Timothy Burgin on Yoga Basics
If we don’t have a specific focus, our actions and thoughts will drift around aimlessly. Imagine you grabbed a recipe book and wanted to make lasagna for dinner. But instead of marking down the lasagna recipe page and making sure you were referencing that page the whole way through, you just left the book open on the counter so the breeze kept blowing the pages around to the salad section, the desert section, and at one point while you were grabbing sauce ingredients you were actually looking at a fish curry. I’m pretty sure you’ll create food if you’re diligent about it, but I’m also pretty sure you’re not going to like it. (Anyone remember that episode of Friends where Rachel made a trifle with beef in it?)
Focusing on one point is hard (and can sometimes feel a bit boring) but it’s necessary. And the more specific your focus is, the better the results of your efforts to focus will be.
Let me tell you a story…
I was driving to teach a class one morning and I was really frustrated and stressed about something really stupid (it was a boy [and I mean that it was not only a stupid thing to be frustrated about him but that he’s also a stupid … anyways]). I knew it wasn’t worth my energy to keep focusing on this frustration, so I started saying to myself “Ugh, I just need a distraction from this, I need to distract myself, anything to get my mind off of this will help.”
So I get to the class, go in and teach, and definitely feel a little better afterwards (because my job is pretty amazing). I go out to my car, which I had forgotten to lock, and my purse and phone were stolen.
Distraction granted! Thanks universe…
I recognized pretty immediately the unfortunate irony there, and proceeded to spend the rest of the day juggling my normal activities with visits to my phone provider’s store, my bank, digging my passport out of the resources of the Important Documents Unorganized Vortex and trying to use a cheap burner flip phone to handle all of these calls to credit companies and the like.
Attempting to maintain a positive outlook and not let this ruin my day, I couldn’t help but be a little bummed that I didn’t have most of my friends’ phone numbers. I know some really great people who I knew would cheer me up to chat a bit with, and one number I was particularly missing was my friend Ethan. I found myself worrying a bit that I might not be able to recover his number and thinking how much I was hoping he would text me soon so that we didn’t lose touch for too long.
Within the hour, I kid you not, I get a text from Ethan “Hey dude, what’s up?” Haha, well my friend, let me tell you…
Almost immediately I started to reflect on that morning and my request for “just any distraction.” If only I had been more specific with my intention. If I had directed my focus to distracting myself with the class I was about to teach, or meditating on what a beautiful morning it was, or how thankful I was to have the good sense to know how dumb it was to let myself get frustrated about that morning’s frustration… would my “distraction” still have happened?
I could be a lot more “woo woo” than I think I am, and my attributing the theft and Ethan’s text to my asking the cosmos might be a bit narcissistic… but there’s a lot to be said for having a specific intention to our thoughts and actions. “Be careful what you wish for” is a very old adage, and a lesson I think we’ve all experienced or seen in our world to some extent.
So I invite you, friends, to take a little extra time to focus on your focus (today, this week, hopefully always). And maybe even during your personal practice, focus the Drishti part of executing the asanas (oh good grief just google it if you don’t know, I’m starting to get antsy and done with this post, I admit my capacity for focus is starting to wane). I’m hoping I get a chance over the next few days to update this with a little clip of some focus work I like to do in Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon).
I’ll be keeping my focus on finding some free time to do so. Oh, and Universe, I’d just like to clarify that I’m trying to find that time by the good fortune of being efficient with my projects and appointments, rather than some catastrophe opening up my schedule, please and thanks.
Happy Focused Friday, y’all.