Life is not an accident. It may sound cliché, but “everything DOES happen for a reason.” I believe this to be true, and I see that our reason or purpose for existence is to learn.
Since I was a young child, I have always loved to learn new things. An excitement would flood my being and my eyes would glow with curiosity. Although the desire to learn was in my heart and intentions, a pattern soon arrived. I would begin a swimming lesson, and soon after quit. I would attend a tumbling class or two, then quit. Same goes for piano, guitar, soccer, basketball, volleyball, diving, dance… the list goes on! Was it the lack of desire for each of these growth-filled and fun sports? I have a trusted feeling that it was not.
A similar pattern was seen in my formal education. I would express curiosity and a joy of learning with most every subject taught in school, yet would easily lose interest and would move my attention into my imagination. This pattern resulted in low test scores, poor grades, and even led to the concerns of my teachers and my parents — that I may have had ADHD. Although my parents were aware of this concern, I was not made aware of this until my senior year of college.
While earning my bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois, this lack of concentration pervaded most of my experiences, whether in class, extra curricular activities, group projects, or social interactions. Some of the byproducts of this lack of concentration resulted in low self-esteem, insecurities, over-thinking, and a doubt of my abilities.
I had a few friends who had prescriptions for Adderall, a combination medication that is used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. I eventually began taking doses of this medication to keep my attention focused while completing assignments for school. In the beginning, I loved the feeling of being able to concentrate and study material for 5 to 6 hours at a time. Yet, in addition to the laser-focused attention came little to no appetite, poor sleep patterns, sometimes sleepless nights, heightened emotions, and physical shaking within my body. I knew that this could not be healthy for my natural flow and energy within my mind and body, but I felt desperate.
Every spring, the University hosts a health fair, inviting all kinds of healing, from traditional, to holistic, to pure well-being. I was led to a table where a woman stood, representing the School of Metaphysics and interpreting dreams. I was intrigued by this woman’s love for dreams, so I gave her my contact information and walked away. Little did I know that this moment would forge a whole new vision for myself at a later date.
It was approaching the end of summer, and I received an unexpected call; it was a woman inviting me to a new class in Applied Metaphysics at the School of Metaphysics. I said yes and told her that I would be there. Not knowing a thing about metaphysics — or even what the word meant — I still felt an urge to go to this class.
At the first night of class, all of the students were told that if we remained disciplined and consistent with the practices taught in the course of study, we could expect an expansion of our awareness, deeper relationships, greater self understanding, improved grades, and an improved image of self. Although I knew very little of what I was getting myself into, I continued to come to class every week, week after week.
We received teachings and exercises intended to aid us in our ability to concentrate that we were asked to practice everyday. I noticed improvement within my grades, I noticed improvement within my ability to communicate with my friends and peers, and I saw myself changing for the better. The simple skill of concentration not only aided me in earning better grades for myself, it also enhanced my ability to direct my attention where I wanted to.
Through the practice and application of concentration on anything we desire, we build a discipline within the mind. It is the practice of concentration that has aided me to still my thoughts to receive guidance from my inner self, to relax the body at will, to perceive the need in my experiences, and — most of all– to understand the purpose of my existence. With constant practice of concentration exercises, breathing techniques, and stilling of the thoughts, anyone can build a greater knowledge of who they are and why they are here. This experience in the world is here for us to learn who we are, how we are creating, and to experience the joy and bliss of an awakened consciousness.
Concentration is a powerful tool in gaining self-awareness and achieving goals for yourself. Through the use of concentration, all of our attention can be directed to a single point. If we lack the ability to concentrate, we allow our mind to wander aimlessly. As we learn to concentrate, we learn to direct our thoughts to a state of well-being. Our thoughts influence our well-being and health. The more directed our thoughts are toward health, healing, and wholeness, the more those aspects in our life will be enhanced. This is true for most anything in our experiences. What we give our attention to grows. The more attention we give to the plants in our garden or house, the more the plants thrive and grow. This is the same for our quality of thoughts. When we give attention to our goals and desired way of living with deep concentration, our desires manifest, and we can know and understand the power held within our mind.
An exercise in concentration on a daily basis can change your life. Here is a practice that you can endeavor if you choose:
1. Sit relaxed in a straight back chair. Taking deep breaths will help you to relax and release tension held in the body.
2. Hold a pencil to eye level and about 10 inches away from the face. Placing a pillow underneath the arm may be helpful.
3. Gaze at the sharpened tip of the pencil for 10 minutes. A gaze is gentle and relaxed. Your eyes may cross, and that is natural. Intensely staring at the pencil tip may cause some strain in the eyes, so just softly gaze.
4. Your physical eyes as well as your mental attention should be given to the tip of the pencil. Anytime you notice your thoughts drifting to anything outside of the present moment of you and the pencil, guide yourself back to your point of focus. Every time you bring your attention back, you are building self-direction.
5. Practice this everyday for 10 weeks, 10 minutes a day and you will notice a shift in your consciousness.
Posts tagged ‘attention’
If you need to feel loved, truly loved. Spend some time with your pet. I wish I could procure a camera and capture the absolute adoring expression Link gives me as he leans over my lap and gazes worshipfully up at me. Seriously. Where else can you find unconditional love, if not for your animals? Ok sure, sometimes it is conditional — on food, on water, on a clean litterbox or being taken out. . . But if you provide for all of those things and don’t kick and/or yell at your pet every time you pass – AND if your pet did not come to you with some crazy psychological baggage already, there’s a good chance you’ve found a loyal friend.
All you have to do is be there, and the pet will be with you and love you. It doesn’t care how fat you’ve gotten or that you forgot to put make up on, or worse, that you haven’t showered or forgot your deodorant. If your pets are creepy like my cats, they’ll even love the stinky you all the more! (Seriously. My cats, especially Zelda, are particularly partial to shoes, sweaty socks, and work out clothes.)
My pets won’t look down on me for leaving my previous position, and they have no judgment on how my live my life. They don’t have any idea why I’m gone so long each day and pounce on me when I finally get back. All my pets come to me when I call them and they are ready to snuggle at any time of day.
So, if you’re really feeling stinky, don’t grab a person – grab a quadruped! (The more the stinky, the more the love!)
I don’t get sick. I don’t. Ok, I do. But rarely. And it’s only when my immune system has come under serious attack, i.e. I’m stressed because I’m behind on grading and planning, AND report cards are due, AND my classroom management is out the window, AND I have 3 million simultaneous meetings, AND I’ve got a bazillion friend & family functions to attend, AND I’ve lost sleep, AND I’m not eating well, AND. . .
But I don’t even remember the last time I got really sick. I think it may have been my 2nd year of teaching, 8 years ago. It was my first year in bilingual 4th grade, I had 30 students (8 of whom were behavior challenges, and 5 of whom were newcomers), and it was March. (March can be a rough time for teachers. It’s not as long as May, but the weather is still bad.) The time before that? Junior year of high school, in the middle of my first big musical: Godspell. Before that? 5th grade.
Sometime in middle school I decided I just wasn’t going to get sick. I actually made that promise to a family friend, and I kept it. I didn’t miss a single day of middle school for sickness. (I think I had to miss one or two days for eye appointments, and that devastated me because I missed the perfect attendance award.) And as I said, that doesn’t mean I have a perfectly healthy body all the time, but I do pretty well.
I think attitude is half the battle. Part of my attitude is not so great: I can’t afford to get sick. That could be a sign of overworking/being a workaholic. But the other half is: I’ve got a healthy body that is too strong to get sick.
Why do a lot of us get sick? I believe part of it’s subconscious. Have you ever had one of these thoughts? Oh, God, everyone in my office/family is sick; I’m next! or It’s that time of year again; I’m probably going to get sick or Geez, I’m so tired, and do I feel a little funny? Maybe I’m coming down with something!
We expect it, and it happens.
Also, sickness can be a rewarding experience. I’m not talking about the runny nose, the sore throat, the nausea, etc. being a great time. I mean the extra attention, the time off of work, the break you finally give yourself. Maybe you don’t have time or days to take off of work, but if you’re sick, you have to. Maybe you haven’t taken time for yourself; you haven’t allowed yourself to relax and do nothing. Now that you’re sick, you are expected to stay in bed, lie on the couch, and catch up on TV/favorite movies. And what about the extra caring and attention? It’s cold out, so you shouldn’t be walking the dog when you’re sick. You’re also probably too tired to do any housecleaning or go out and run any errands. Maybe your partner will even make meals for you/ bring you your tea/ bring you that remote 3 feet away? You get the idea. And even though this might all sound negative, you need these things, certainly more than you’re getting them. The key is to take care of yourself before you get sick, not after.
And though all of this is well and good, of course taking good care of one’s body is also important. Even though I miss sleep here and there and sometimes eat stupid things, I generally do pretty well. Thankfully, when I miss even a little sleep, I immediately get cranky to the point that I don’t even like being around myself, so that’s pretty good motivation to stay on track. I’ve also begun cutting back on refined grains and on meats, and I’m trying to eat more fruits, veggies, and legumes. Pretty much the only liquid I drink is water (except for the occasional beer or similar beverage), and I’m trying to remember to take my vitamins every day: multivitamins and Nutriferon (to boost the immune system). I also exercise at least 2-4 times a week, including yoga. And I try to monitor my energy and stay positive as much as possible.
I don’t know which part of all of that is most important, but I like to think it all is. Keeping your body healthy is a physical, mental, and spiritual process, and a goal worth working for.
So, remember, the next time people begin dropping like flies around you, have no fear, take care of your spirit, mind, and body and have confidence in yourself. Try saying this to yourself: They may be sick, but I’m feeling great!