Lessons from Yoga: Focus

It’s amazing what a difference focus can make. What we focus on has a dramatic effect on our mood and our lives. Lately I have been focusing on some big questions and issues that feel unsolvable and overwhelming and I’ve felt overwhelmed, depressed, stressed, aggravated and just plain off. So, tonight I called my mom, I wanted to find out about some big stuff that’s going on in her life (which also felt overwhelming to me) but I also wanted someone to commiserate with me. I wanted someone to focus on my stresses and struggles with me. I wanted someone to validate my feelings and feel them with me. What I got was different, but far better. My mom started asking me questions about some of the things that I am excited about in my life right now, and as I shared things with her my focus shifted and by the end of the conversation I no longer felt overwhelmed, stressed, alone and afraid – instead I felt excited and energized. It was amazing the difference it made.

Maybe I’m going too far in saying this, but, right now I feel like focus is everything. When I focus on my lack of control I feel overwhelmed, when I focus on God’s power and realize that He is always in control I feel reassured. When I focus on the big questions of how to pay the upcoming bills I feel overwhelmed, but when I focus on the simple task in front of me I feel reassured.

It reminded me of doing balancing poses in yoga… Sometimes when I’m trying to do a really difficult balancing pose I will focus on getting my body into the pose and no matter what I do I won’t be able to get my body to do it right – I get frustrated and try harder and harder and focus more and more on the big picture of getting into the pose. But, when I relax and take my focus to something else, a small spot on the wall or the place where the floor and wall meet, then suddenly I find my balance and I can do the pose. It’s overwhelming to my mind and body to focus on getting into the difficult pose and focus on keeping my balance in it, but when I take my focus to something else, something simple, a small spot in front of me, my mind can center and my body can balance. In life often I focus on the big picture of trying to fix everything and get my whole life right at once, and I get off balance and fall. But, when I focus just on the task in front of me suddenly things start to fall in place and I have the energy to go farther and do more than I thought I could. Focus really does change everything.

“Simply to do what we ought is an altogether higher, diviner, more potent, more creative thing, than to write the grandest poem, paint the most beautiful picture, carve the mightiest statue, build the most worshiping temple, or dream out the most enchanting commotion of melody and harmony.” – George MacDonald

“There is always a way of doing when one is willing to begin small. This is indeed a divine law! There shall be no success to the man who is not willing to begin small. Small is strong, for it can only grow stronger. Big at the outset is bloated and weak! There are thousands willing to do great things for one willing to do a small thing; but there never was any truly great thing that did not begin small.” – George MacDonald

Rejoicing in the journey - Bethany Stedman