(re)Focus

I have begun a journey into the practice of meditation. In addition to simply sitting alone in a room listening to my breath, I have been using several guided meditations found on YouTube. Some I have enjoyed, others not so much. The process of meditation is first about calming the mind and allowing all of the mental chatter that builds up everyday to be quieted. One of the first challenges a beginner like myself needs to overcome is being able to refocus when distracting thoughts enter the mind. I have achieved this to varying degrees during each of my sessions. But the other day I heard a phrase in one of the guided meditations that struck me …

“See each refocusing as a success.”

For meditation beginners, becoming distracted and needing to refocus can feel like a failure, something that we have to correct to “do it right.” But the truth is that every time we are able to refocus our minds our concentration is stronger, the likelihood of being distracted again diminished even if just slightly. Every refocusing after our mind wanders is a victory.

Wandering … refocusing … wandering … refocusing …

And so it is with our lives. It is common to have our minds set on some path that we see as a straight line, and any circumstance or choice that causes us to wander is a failure or an affirmation of just how unlikely it is that we will succeed. When we pursue a new project or job that doesn’t pan out or end the way we want, we assume this is a failure and a setback. In reality these moments are chances to refocus, to channel our energy in the direction best suited for us at this time. In fact, our paths in life are not straight lines but a complex web of turns, loops, and sharp corners, crisscrossed with every other person’s bending and weaving paths.

The next time you begin a project, make sure you are focused; have a goal in mind. And then when the project takes an unexpected detour, remember this is your chance to refocus and find a small victory at every turn.

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