Today I Wished for the Ability to Focus

The rain pelted the leaves and the veranda roof. The texture of my navy yoga mat was beneath my feet. I reached my hands to the sky and gazed to the right.

There, a Vervet Monkey was leaping from tree to tree.

Distracted from my practice, I scolded myself, “pay attention,” I thought.

My eyes wandered. I observed its tail curl and straighten for balance. I watched the trees bow with its weight.

I bent forward, placed my hands on my mat and began my sun salutation wondering if the monkey would be there when I returned. “Pay attention,” I warned internally.

I stood and looked for the monkey. It was there and a second had joined. I wondered what it would be like to have a tail.

“Pay attention! What is your problem? Pay attention. You’ve seen monkeys before,” I heard my critic claim.

“Kindness. Kindness to others and self is your intention,” my inner characters argued.

“I showed up. It must be enough.”

“No, it’s not.”

“Please be quiet,” I begged the thoughts.

But the thoughts in my head continued.

I imagine my opposing thoughts as a group of women around a conference table. They disagree and occasionally my consciousness pipes up to accept one or more opinions. My consciousness is like an intercom, the loudspeaker over their chatter.

At the head of the table is the Bully. She wears a navy pencil skirt and flawless pumps. She works out. Commands a room. Often, I think I have no idea why the rest of them appointed her CEO, but she is the best at protecting the rest. The tender feelings of the women around her drive her crazy, but she loves them and will always fight for them.

The furthest from the Bully sits the Mouse. She curls up in her chair and often wears a hooded sweatshirt. She is hiding. She is rare to speak and is even more rarely listened to. She is the one that believes, “we are fine as we are.” The quietest of the group I only occasionally notice her or believe the thoughts she puts forth, such as, “I am enough, the way I am.”

Today, the Professor is winning; she says to the group, “Remember the magazine we read last week? It said, ‘Abhyasa (persistent effort) and vairagya (non-attachment to result) were significant. Usually, we apply that to our yoga practice. We show up, and we practice without attachment to the result from our bodies. Today, we must apply this concept to ourselves (our mind), we must try to focus and not obsess about the outcome.”

The intercom agreed, “Yup. Let’s do that. I’ve shown up for yoga. I’ll put in my effort, and I will try to stay focused, but I’m going to forgive myself when I get distracted.”

The monkeys had vanished. I missed them. I had gotten distracted from my practice and the fruit thieves by the conference room in my head.

Once the conference room had been permitted to argue and found an accepting voice, I focused on my half lotus.

That yoga session was a week ago, but today I found myself thinking about it. Today, was a bit of a struggle. I found it hard to be kind, to find clarity and to focus. Today, I suffered a bit from, “What will I do with my life?” chatter

How do we conjure self-acceptance when it is most difficult?

Today, I wish for the ability to focus.

Check out the past week!

On November:

1 - I asked myself What do I want from my life in Tanzania?

2 - I answered, “Wonder. Bewilderment. Fascination. Peace. Beauty.”

3 - I wanted encounters with the wildlife, culture, and society that expand my soul and add chapters to my book of experience.

4 - I wished for time to do all of these things.

5 - I wished for the courage and confidence to believe in myself.