The problem with seeing the regular way… is that sight naturally prefers outer appearances. It attends to the surface of things, which makes it an essentially superficial sense. We let our eyes skid over trees, furniture, traffic, faces, too often mistaking sight for perception.Barbara Brown Taylor, Learning to Walk in the Dark
The Meditation Mantra of the Month is DRISHTI. Drishti is your focal point in a pose. This can mean an external object like a candle or a spot on the wall. Or it can be an internal focus like the bottom of your feet, or an image in your mind, or even a mantra. It makes a pretty big difference where your drishti is. When you do a balancing pose, like standing on one leg, if you are looking down at the floor you will be drawn towards the floor. So, you want to make your focal point out and up a little. In this picture we are doing standing half-pigeon close to the wall, so that the drishti is right in front of us. Almost everyone who has done this with me feels a significant difference in the sensation of stability when doing the pose close to the wall, without ever touching it. It makes a felt difference in your body where your drishti is.
Last week was the election. It was the whole week and it is kind of still getting dragged along. But for me, I have felt a shift in focus in my body. While I am anxious (racing heart & thoughts) about how this transition of administration will go, I also feel relief (grounded, softer, at ease) that Biden did win the popular vote AND the all important electoral college vote. There was a felt sense of relief, joy, and heartache after the presidency was called. My heartache was how many people still voted for Trump. But, I was able to draw my focus of joy, relief, and hope closer, and let that sense of heartache fade way far back on the horizon.
That is part of the magic of this picture of us being so close to the wall. We practice the same pose in the middle of the room, all spread out, before this pose. When the focal point (drishti) is further away it is much more wobbly, like standing on a mattress sometimes. Going closer to the wall – not close enough to touch it – makes the ground beneath you so much sturdier. The closer focal point grounds you so strongly in your body, and tethers your mind to the present moment. You Are Right There Now.
Your drishti can provide you with focus, stability, ease, and strength. Or not. Your drishti (focal point) can also make your heart and mind race, legs wobble, and your brain get totally overwhelmed. Your focal point makes a difference not just in your mind, but in your body.
I have a 7 month old Border Collie named Lufa. A dog trainer told me (before we adopted her) that the reason she never gets puppies is because (in her experience) you don’t really know who the dog will be until they are about 18 months old. She told me a story about another dog person who had to give their dog away because around 18 months the dog became very aggressive to her children. I have been watching Lufa like a hawk for any and all signs of aggression that means she is horrible and we’ll have to give her away. And WOW – did I find a billion. Like pulling on my kids socks. Chewing and yanking on the leash when we go for a walk. Barking when they head to the basement for school. When my focal point was aggression, I saw it in all of my dog’s behavior and I was worried. But, when I talked to other dog people or read online, those very same behaviors (while annoying) are totally normal puppy behavior. Especially an energetic and very playful puppy, like Lufa.
I’ve started writing weekly practices with shorter reflections called “Wednesday WorkIN”. They are on the side of the blog. It is a discussion board and I would love to hear from you. This blog post is serving as the Wednesday WorkIN. I also write weekly reflections on the Meditation Mantra of the Month in a weekly email. If you want to receive a weekly email from me with a brief reflection and information about the ongoing yoga classes I offer, you can also sign up for that on the website. AND if that wasn’t enough of me, I’ve also started a YouTube site to record brief (or longer) practices for the Wednesday WorkIN. You can subscribe to it and that will encourage me to actually do them on a regular basis.
Here’s The Practice for today’s Wednesday WorkIN! The practice is a 6 minute chair practice to feel the sensation of shifting your focus in your body. Check it out and let me know what you think!
Peace on your head,