I attended a talk yesterday where the speaker, a lovely and talented unschooling advocate, Ren Allen, quoted Arthur Ash: “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” Now there was a man who understood the power of focus, not just the eye-on-the-ball kind, although he definitely had that down, but the kind of focus that allowed him to reach for his goals and dreams. I love the idea of start where you are. Simple but so important. Where else could you start? I think I can look at that statement in two ways; as a reminder to be present and accept myself as I am, and also as an urge or push to get started now. What ever it is that I am striving for, the only way I will ever get even close to it is to get started NOW.
I had a revelation this morning during my practice. I was doing Utthita Hasta Pandangusthasana and I realized I was incredibly steady and focused, as if I could stay there all day. Ah, I thought, this is what focus does. It creates an efficiency with my physical and mental energy. Just as I was having this incredible thought I fell over, of course! Look at me, I am steady as a rock! Oops, over I go. What happened? I lost my focus and everything scattered.
The Benefits of Yoga Practice
It’s got me thinking though about the power of staying focused. My friends call me a squirrel. If you have seen Over the Hedge, you remember Hammy. Hammy and I are distant relatives. I know I can seem calm and focused but that takes effort. This is why yoga practice is so important for me. This is why I have made it my life’s work. I don’t only believe in the physical benefits although there are many. I also believe strongly in the mental, emotional, psycho-social, and environmental benefits. I believe that yoga practice makes individuals and their communities and environments healthier and happier. I believe that focusing on what is important and present makes for a better place to live. I definitely find focus critical when I am striving towards a dream such as O2 Cambridge. Or maybe I should say that focus is critical in order for me to stay on track of growing, what started as a dream, O2 Yoga.
My Cousin, Hammy, the Squirrel
Back to my close relationship with a crazed squirrel, I can be incredibly scattered and inefficient with my energy. I have so many things I want to do in a day or a week or a year that sometimes I don’t get anything done. I can really run myself ragged if I am not careful. Some would say, well then, learn to sit still. Why do such a physical form of yoga? Some even call O2 Yoga, gasp, too physical. As if we are cheating by meditating while moving rather than sitting still. Well, all I can say is, I don’t know anyone who moves too much do you? Well maybe my children are an exception but even there, they have their cycles of movement and stillness. Most adults however, move too little in my opinion. A physical yoga practice is a great way to get energy moving and also to burn off whatever is stuck or stale or heavy. When you get some of that junk out of the way, it is possible to focus and direct energy more efficiently. I will keep working towards this elusive focused mind. In the meantime….what is that over there? An acorn? Sorry, what was I saying??