Mastering your focus is critical. Slackers will either crash and burn or be stranded.
“You call this an upgrade?”
Yeah, I feel you. Sometimes it can feel like a handicap. Like you’ve been debilitated in some way. But think of it this way: if you went from riding a bicycle your whole life to suddenly driving a car, you’d probably be at a loss to make it work. There’s no doubt that the car is more powerful and you can do more with it, but if you don’t know how to drive it, you can’t appreciate the benefits. So you sit there, in the driver’s seat, missing your trusty old Schwinn. At least you knew what to do with it. In fact, in the time it takes to read this, you could have actually gone somewhere with it! Instead, you are stuck inside this new car staring at all the buttons, mirrors, backup cameras, GPS and so forth, unable to even traverse two blocks.
Sweetpeas, I hate to break it to you but you can’t have your bike back.
At least, not right now. You can take as long as you want to pout about it, and when you’re done with that you’ll need to learn to drive your car. Simple as that.
This post is about mastering your focus. You can also think about it as your attention or awareness.
Everyone needs to do this, but the difference for you is power or speed. When you regard a thing, you become it or merge with it, or absorb it. This happens when you rest your awareness on physical things, like a tree or a person or the night sky. It also happens when you rest your awareness on mind states or concepts, like emptiness or meaninglessness or depression or confusion or Buddhism or sin…or, being debilitated. Your awareness has become very subtle, keen and penetrating.
For most people, this is not as critical an issue because they have so much going on all the time, pulling in opposite directions, so they would have to do this repeatedly over a period of time to see much of an effect. In contrast, where you are is silent and all your bodies move in one direction. This integration is very powerful, but requires adjustment in how you wield your attention. You simply cannot afford to be sloppy with something this potent.
Consider this example: You notice that everything is empty, that emptiness pervades all things.
You then notice that all the meanings, the value, you gave to various aspects of your life are also empty. Then there appears a shadow. At first it is a small discomfort, like a tiny grain of sand in your shoe. You take off your shoe and find a tiny little grain of sand, and then inspect it. It is this feeling you label pointlessness.
Here you get stuck. Just a little. It makes sense to remove some irritating bit of sand from your shoe, but you don’t leave it behind and keep moving. You put it back in your shoe and keep walking with it, focusing on the discomfort you are now calling pointlessness. The grain becomes a pebble, and that becomes a bag of rocks you drag around and for some it becomes a boulder that they can’t move past or that pins them down.
Your focus, attention, awareness has become stuck, hijacked or fixated…a little or a lot. There is some idea or thing you contract around, instead of allowing your awareness to remain fluid. Your awareness is now caught on something sticky. Your clarity is compromised.
Now, if you do something to anchor this fixation on a physical level, if you take action on it, you give birth to something, you create something that has its own energy and motion and trajectory. One reader wrote that he uses alcohol and food to numb himself. What he’s doing is really trying to dull his focus, which has become fixated on something…in this case, meaninglessness or pointlessness or some sense of loss of the old life. Doing something physical based on this fixation of focus creates a powerful feedback loop that will have a real, physical impact.
You’ve now created a more or less real thing that has a life of its own. You’ve given birth to a child.
When you create something physical, it’s easier to see (because it is patently manifested) but harder to deal with. On one hand being able to see the fruit of your poorly used focus can be just the smack in the face you need to get serious about how you are using your focus. But really, do you need to be waylaid for years in some grimy hole?
So far we’ve covered something that is obviously negative and painful, like becoming physically depressed (meaning, your brain has adopted a chemical pattern of depression). But your focus can get fixated on anything, like the second coming of Jesus or Pranayama or Ascension or reading Akashic records or saving people or Nirvana or escaping rebirth or extra terrestrial races or Reiki.
I’m not talking about “positive thinking” here. It matters not at all what you focus on, what matters is maintaining the fluidity and resilience and integrity of your awareness. Notice what it feels like when it is thus, compared to when it’s getting sticky, when it’s contracting around something, when it is getting fixated. Stay centered and maintain the impeccability of your awareness. Like a camera lens, you can zoom in on the particular and you can zoom out and take in the Everything. Even better, you can hold the Everything in your awareness while zooming in on the specific. You can do all of this and more, without contracting and fixating. It seems like a fine line, but you can easily feel the difference. With practice you can either avoid fixation or catch yourself early in the process and correct it.
Some people reading this will get what I’m saying to some degree. It can be helpful even if you aren’t operating on the level of awareness I’m speaking of. For those who are…for YOU, I know you understand this, no matter how many not-quite-right mixed metaphors I employ. You have stabilized in this luminous clarity, and you can recognize the contraction/fixation of awareness as it occurs…not just by the fruit or the child or the manifestation eventually created by this contraction. It is impossibly subtle, but you are able to perceive it and adjust.
Your upgrade gives you power and speed. One degree can change your trajectory by a million miles.
If you feel a tiny grain in the flow, remove it and keep flowing. Take action when your attention is impeccable, not when it is fixated. Action that arises out of impeccable awareness does not create misbegotten children.