The topic of focus came up today and it fits into the theme of change from my previous posts this month. When we are trying to break a habit or create a new one the skill of focus is required. When we have developed a habit we act without thinking. In order to change that habitual action we have to be aware of what needs to change and have the focus to keep us on the new path. It reminds me of a saying I heard once that ‘energy flows where your focus goes’. If I am upset about something and keep thinking about it I keep my feelings of upset alive and well. If I would like to feel differently I have to shift my focus off what I am upset about and onto something different.
Recently I read a book[*] that talks about a woman’s journey of healing from cancer. Her healing was miraculous when looked at logically, because she went from near death to good health in five weeks. When she describes the profound paradigm shift in the focus of her thinking and feeling during that time, the link starts to become clear.
My body likes to do a series of stretching exercises in the morning. For the past year I have sought several modes of treatment for something called piriformis syndrome basically my right glut and hamstring get very sore when I do certain exercise. When I stretch the pain distracts my attention and I can get stuck in believing that it will never improve because it has been the same for a long time now. This morning I was contemplating my approach as a result of reading this book on healing.
In the book the author describes her near death experience vividly. When she was dying her consciousness expanded beyond her sick body and she realised what had made her sick. She also became aware of what she needed to do to heal. She describes understanding for the first time that, while sick, all she focused on was her sickness. When she altered her focus towards her health she began to recover.
So, this morning as I was stretching and feeling the familiar pain in my buttock and leg I became aware of a new possibility for myself. If ‘energy flows where your focus goes’, then my consistent attention on my sore side might not be helpful. I became aware that I also have a buttock and leg that hold no pain and move with ease, welcoming the stretches. With my curiosity ignited, I spent my stretching session gently pulling my awareness and focus towards my pain-free leg and buttock. I wondered what the impact of holding my focus on the healthy side of my body might be?
What I also observed is that I have a strong habit of focusing on the parts of me that are not fine. Almost without thinking, my attention goes directly to what is wrong and begins a judgment and meaning making process. When I was able to move my attention to the parts of me that were working well, something new emerged. I don’t have words for my experience yet. What I know is that something is shifting and it feels healthy.
If we take this example back into the realm of change, what I did was practically apply the idea of focus to a physical injury that I have experienced. I practised focusing on health instead of injury. It is day one of the experiment so I am observing with curiosity and wonder. And from what I experienced today I will definitely practice focusing on my good side tomorrow too, because I felt an ease that I have not felt for a long time. The point being that if we want anything to change it is necessary to become aware of where your attention currently goes and where it might need to be focused, for a change to occur.
* Moorjani, Anita. 2012. Dying to be me. United States: Hay House [See the Book Review section]