Excellent post from Shakta’s writing coach, David Hazard from his blog, Live Your Fire. Each post is about a Seed Word. Today’s word is…………..
Most of our lives we are distracted or bored. Our mind, and therefore our actions, are not directed but scattered. We rely on books, television, games, conversations, work, to pull us into a sense of focus and directedness. At the end of a day we feel as though we lived in a direction and accomplished… something.
But was it a day that grew out of the seedfire of our own personal aspiration? a day lived with creative fire? — or was it a day that is now, like ashes, merely spent?
In order to live with fire we cultivate openness, places and times to just be. This starts to rid us of the intrusion of outer demands, agendas, ideologies. Next we can develop a state of mental awareness.
The kind of awareness that’s needed is the state of vivid focus that comes when, say, we’re walking down a still, forest path… and from somewhere in the treetops an unusual birdcall sounds. Wherever the mind was straying a moment before, it’s now brought into sharp focus as you search the canopy of leaves to pinpoint the bird’s exact location.
This is the kind of laser-like focus we need, in order to descend with the mind into our own heart and soul to reconnect with and vivify the seeds of native genius that lie within in each one of us. And it’s the kind of focus we need in order to remain focused when we act on our intention in the real world, with its distractions, temptations to dissipate energy, and discouraging obstacles.
The problem is, every time we allow the moving mind to jump to something new we literally send some of our physical and psychic energy in the direction of that thought. And when we’ve spent a day with “monkey mind” (which we deceive ourselves by calling “multi-tasking”) we feel not only exhausted but diffused… because we are.
To develop the strength of mind that’s laser-focused, to turn our consciousness into a tool with which we carve our path of fire in the world, takes practice.
This month’s seedword meditation – aware – is an actual meditation practice. Much as we would lift a weight to strengthen a weak or atrophied muscle, a meditation practice will help us strengthen our purpose and our ability to stick with a plan. This starts with our ability to focus.
Daily, practice an awareness meditation, like this one:
- Imagine that multi-tasking and lack of focus has scattered your mind in pieces, like many shiny spheres of clear light.
- Visualize these spheres scattered wherever the various foci of your life are right now… with a child or partner who’s away from home… with a project left unfinished at work… with something that happened yesterday or a month ago… with a dream or hope for the future.
- Imagine drawing these spheres of clear light together into one small, shining sphere that you can see six feet in front of you, just above eye level. Focus on it for a minute. “Dissolve it” into a space of clear, open awareness.
- Rest your focus in this open awareness… as if you’re looking through a clear lens into vast openness.
You will find this to be more challenging than it may sound. So be prepared for your mind to wander and skip away, with these instructions:
- Every time your mind wanders to a thought, memory, or image, gently return it to this single, clear, open space in front of you.
- Likewise, “notice” the sounds or distractions that occur outside you, and again gently return your mind to this focal point.
- Set a timer — perhaps on a watch or cell phone — and practice for greater and greater lengths of time – starting with 3 to 5 minutes, working up to 10, 20, or 30 minutes.
Creative people, psychologists, spiritual directors… we all know that this simple practice steadies the consciousness, and this is a foundational practice that connects our inner energies with their outer expression.
Every time you practice you will build “focus muscle,” as it were. You will grow stronger in a personal practice you absolutely need in order to find and live your fire in this world.