If you were to focus for a minute or so intently on your finger it would appear that the finger actually grew in size. Likewise, if you were to bring intense attention to any area of your life, such as a career or a relationship, it would appear that the space this particular area occupies greatly expands. These examples illustrate an important point – what we place our attention on grows (even if only in our mind).
In our culture, we mainly place our attention outside of us. This is especially true in conflict situations. We blame others for making us feel a certain way; seek outward validation of our views; or escape and avoid our perceived foes. So strong is our focus out that our sense of self worth depends almost entirely on the outer world.
Because our attention is on the outside, the outside grows (or at least our perception of it), making us feel smaller and smaller. This growth perpetuates a story of small us versus the giant world. In this story, we must fight for our spot under the sun; protect ourselves from others; and engage in a constant battle to control our surroundings.
The alternative, of course, is to bring our attention inward, causing our inner awareness to expand. As our inner awareness expands thoughts, emotions and physical sensations can freely arise and fall away and cease to hold any power over us. The outside circumstances, regardless of what we want them to be, become less threatening and more benevolent. We realize that we are responsible for how and what we feel and gradually gain a deep knowing that we already have and always had everything we’ve ever sought. Conflict, as all other experiences, becomes an invitation to go within and sharpen our focus, deepening our awareness of Self.
So, what do we do to make this paradigm shift from focusing on the outside to within? Well, that’s a trick question! Because when we are doing, we are not focused within. And, it does not matter what we are doing – practicing yoga, meditating or reading inspiring posts.
Our clue as to where our attention is – inward or outward – lies in our intention. Is our intention to get somewhere or something? Are we seeking to change our partner? Do we wish to become better at something or rid ourselves off? If the answer to any of these questions is anything remotely near a “yes,” we’re yet to make a paradigm shift. Rather, we are still doing – trying to fix or escape the present moment. Doing is future or past focused, while being is steeped in the here and now. So, when our attention is on anything other than being completely present now, we are still doing.
Only when our attention and intention merge into one – to be fully in this moment, regardless of what it may bring, we have focused inside.