Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Getting Focused, with Intention

Focus isn't about tuning out distractions, it's about engaging in the object or activity of your intent. When you get there, the distractions soften or lose focus, as in the photo. They are still there, but your mind is not attending clearly to them. In yoga, we call this Drishti.  It is the intention of the practice.

How does it work?  If you set an intention to get healthy, where is your focus?  Is it on what you can not eat?  Or, is it focused on the delicious freshness, texture, color, of what you are eating and what you can eat?  We focus on the wrong thing!  

When trying to make improvements in our lives, we are stuck on the negative - what I don't like about this new habit, what isn't going well, what doesn't work, what I'm not good at.  The brain is good at this stuff!  We have to be purposeful and intentional about training the brain toward the positive, the healthy, the new.  It will hold on tightly to the old ways, because patterns are what it does best.  It will hold on to the cheapest, easiest rewards (like fatty chips and sweet donuts).  But, you can train it, with focus and intent, to like the healthy stuff!

Here are some ways:

1.  Pick one sense.  Smell, sight, sound?  Then, settle comfortably into a position where you can fully be absorbed by that sense.  Examples are to lie down with aromatherapy oils in a diffuser or carefully placed just under your nose.  Another is to sit back with music playing.  Or, try lighting a candle and watching the flame intently.  Every time your mind thinks about something else or engages in some other sense (AND IT WILL!) just settle back into your chosen sense.  This can be done with taste and touch as well.

2.  Wear a rubber band or watch on one wrist.  Get specific about the negative thought pattern you want to change.  Remember, you have to train your mind to pay attention to what you now want and not what you are changing away from.  Let's say you intend to be more positive about how you think about yourself.  Every time you think a negative thought about yourself, change the wrist you are wearing the watch or band on and say a positive thought about yourself.  Your first goal will be to get through a day without the negative thought.  Then, expand that to a week, then a month.

Remember, your brain is a patterned entity.  Your conscious thoughts are not in charge, the trained patterns located in the unconscious part of the brain are really what's in charge of most of what we do and think all day.  You have to train your brain to focus on new patterns with intention and purpose!