As 2016 closes its doors and I begin to wish, hope and plan for the coming year, my thoughts have been drawn to the idea of focus. Resolutions, goals, hopes, dreams – they all require focus. You can define focus from the point of something coming into focus, becoming clear. You can also think of it as the energy and attention that one puts on something important. I’ve been thinking of it recently from the idea of drishti.
In Sanskrit, drishti translates as ‘sight,’ though you may often hear it translated as ‘view’ or ‘gaze’ as well. In it’s most basic, the practice of drishti asks, ‘what are you looking at right now?’ It is often interpreted as your physical gaze. We deeply underestimate the power of our physical gaze. For example, focusing on a fixed point in the distance stabilizes our balance – this is especially true on the water when focusing on the horizon can give you your sea legs and reduce seasickness.
I encourage you to ask yourself – what are you looking at regularly? Do you spend your time outside looking down at your phone? (I’m so guilty of this one!) How often do you meet other people’s eyes? What is that experience like for you? How often do you see the horizon? Do you consciously look at the sky? Studies suggest that the physical act of looking up can increase your optimism and lift your mood – your gaze is that powerful!
Start with your eyes in 2017 – what do you want to set your physical sights on?
Of course, the concept of drishti runs so much deeper than the physical. It’s the idea that what you put your attention on grows stronger in your life. In the realm of emotions, there are no facts. Everything we experience is filtered through our perception. So how we choose to see and interpret something can have a profound impact on our state of mind and our well being.
Ask yourself – what do you tend to focus on? Do you let the comforts, the joys, the gratitudes of your life sink in as deeply as the fears? How often do you look around and notice all the love around you, or all the beauty? For those of you who have children or pets, you will know that through the right eyes, a plain cardboard box can be the most comfortable, exciting or miraculous thing in the room. May we all see the ordinary through such eyes.
Focusing on the things you have in your life is not about ignoring challenges or pretending that everything is ok. It is instead encouraging your sights to rest on those things that bring you comfort while you are going through something difficult. It is consciously choosing the belief that creates good feelings in your heart, over the one that causes you to feel resentful or scared.
If you’re like me, 2016 felt like a tough year in many different ways. I have my apprehensions about 2017 as well. But fear, anxiety, lack, envy, worry – they are squeaky wheels in our lives. They will not ever go without our attention. And if we are not mindful, they can take up our whole world view.
So, whatever it is you are setting out to change in 2017, whatever it is that you want to accomplish, create (or perhaps destroy), be sure to make room to focus on those things that are good enough. Make room for the good enough this year.
May we all fix our focus on the beauty, the joy and the comfort to sustain us through whatever challenges 2017 may bring.
Happy New Year!