People ask me how they can get better at practically directing their mind so they can build focus. I’d like to explore that idea by talking about events and the stories we tell ourselves.
You experience your life in “events.” Like the folders on your computer that help you organize your photos and word files, your mind organizes your life by sorting everything into events. For instance, a simple event would be getting up from your computer and walking outside to get the mail. Those are two events.
With focus and greater awareness you can stay in the event you’re in instead of going back in time or forward in time and missing out on the now. With focus you can increase your awareness so you can move intentionally from “event to event,” instead of getting lost in your thoughts during events and merely moving from “effect to effect.” That is a powerful distinction.
Speaking to the idea of distinction, it’s a very important skill to develop. For instance if you or I went into the far north we would see lots of white snow. A local Eskimo would see many, many colors of snow and types of snow, and would have numerous words for all the many distinctions of which they were aware. It is powerful to be able to see many distinctions instead of merely thinking, “Well this happened and that happened and I liked this and I didn’t like that.”
Seeing your life in events is having distinctions. If you don’t have clear distinctions you can get stuck in the past, or what you were just doing because you are not distinguishing that you have shifted locations, experiences, and surroundings.
For instance, in regard to finances, many of us tend to worry about future events involving finances without recognizing that those events are not here yet, and in fact they may never happen. Instead it is beneficial to stay in the current event, right here, and and to focus on what is actually happening. It is important to point out that what happens in the future comes directly from what you are doing right here, right now. You cannot deal with the future by thinking ahead. You have to generate what will happen in the future by focusing on what you are doing right now. Focus increases your ability to generate what you want
If you are merely worrying about the future you are not dealing with what will actually determine the future. For instance some people are sitting at home worrying about how to generate money at some point down the road. What would be more helpful is if they would get up, right now, leave the house and go get a job. Sometimes instead of sitting around pondering esoteric ideas around financial prosperity what is needed is action, like going job hunting and then accepting the job that is offered so you can pay your bills. It really is that simple. People are looking for some magic in the future instead of doing what they could do right now to shift their reality.
The goal is to start to focus on the event we are in, to stay in the now. Events can be simple or complex. An example of a simple event would be having breakfast. Complex events have multifaceted integration with many events. For instance, when you leave a job and then are creating what you want to do next… this one event is ongoing and has many aspects to it that affect other events.
For ease of explaining, we’re going to focus on simple events right now. The goal is that you actively engage during the events in your life instead of being passive. If the event is breakfast, and you just sit in front of the food and don’t pick up the food and eat it, you’re not participating in the event. Or if you’re at one of my talks and instead of actively focusing on what I’m saying, engaging and deeply listening, you just sit there passively, or are daydreaming, you’re not participating. You’re not getting much out of that event. It’s not feeding you.
In every event, you must focus and participate. You must make a storyline from what is happening. You must understand your purpose so you can integrate what is happening into what is meaningful to you. You know you have a useful storyline if you can communicate it to someone else. For instance if the event is breakfast your storyline might be, “I woke up a little early today to have time for a healthy breakfast because I know I feel better and have more energy, creativity and zest for life when I eat well and don’t rush through my meals.” In this example you were conscious that you were in an event and were focused on creating your own story.
You can also have abstract events like, “I teach Tai Chi.” Your story might be, “The reason I teach Tai Chi is that I started practicing ten years ago not knowing much about it and the more I practiced I started noticing profound changes in my life. Then I started teaching and really got blown away and got more and more curious about how much more I could learn from my personal practice and from my students.”
You need to have a conscious story about what you’re doing in your life. I don’t mean a made-up story about what you’d like to be happening. I’m talking about your real-life story. You need to see your real story about what you’re doing here, and be able to share that story with others. If you’re doing stuff without a story, you’re lost.
The story is essential because it is the way you integrate your own understanding. It’s the way you create purpose in your life. If you are living life without a story, without purpose, you’re going to feel very, very lost.
There is no purpose that you are supposed to be fulfilling. YOU create your own purpose. Quit looking for your purpose. Go create it! There is no purpose other than what you create for yourself. It is inside you somewhere.
Your story is an explanation of your purpose.
You need to be aware of events and the story you tell about them, and how they relate to your purpose. If you eat breakfast without focusing on your story you’ll tend to just gobble up whatever is in front of you. If you are aware of your story you’ll consciously choose what you eat and enjoy it more.
Problems arise if you are telling yourself the wrong story or if your story is not supporting you. It is especially dangerous when an unhelpful story is running through your mind automatically and repeatedly, or if you are replaying a story your parents or someone else told you. That is not YOUR true story. To fix this you simply need to notice that your mind is focused in the wrong area.
If your story feels bad… CHANGE YOUR STORY about yourself. When you get hung up ask yourself about the story you’re telling. Are you saying, “I can’t do this. I don’t know what I’m doing. I’m never going to have enough money, I’m not smart enough to do that. I’ve always been afraid of that kind of thing. They blew me off because I’m un-loveable.” Those are all unhelpful stories you’re telling yourself about who you are. You know you have your true story, the story that is helpful for you, when it raises your vibration. This is an important point. It may seem obvious, although many people don’t get this point quickly… don’t tell a story that makes you feel bad! Be intentional when you are crafting your story. Focus on what you want. Make sure your story raises your vibration.
Build your story by looking back on your life and focusing on the events that have brought you to where you are right now, what you’ve learned and who’s supported you and loved you. Then focus the story on what you are doing right now to support and create the life you want. Notice how the event and story you are living in this moment is building a future full of purpose that excites you.
I caution you about getting lost in your story and losing focus on what is happening moment by moment during your present event. Your story helps you create the life you want, but it is important to remain focused on the life that is happening, beautifully now, in this moment.
When you catch yourself telling a negative story about yourself I want you to stop and re-set your focus. I want you to remember that you are the only author of your story. Your true self is intelligence, love, appreciation, and creative power. Do you get that? Where else could all that be coming from? It all comes from you. You are the center and the value of your life. Tell your story from there and it will raise your vibration and feel great. Other people can help you, but if you don’t value your life and your story, it won’t matter.
You don’t need to change your whole story at once. Merely start to observe yourself and when you notice you’re focused on something negative, pause. Then change your story a little bit at a time. Focus on the fact that you are the love and value in your life. Telling stories about what you appreciate is a good way to begin raising your vibration and feeling love.
~ Master San Gee Tam