doug focusI was recently with my 2-month old granddaughter, finding myself captivated by her beauty and the marvel of new life. Mostly she slept, ate, and needed to be changed. Waking moments brought sounds and smiles, the exploration of movement, and an alert curiosity. They also brought a markedly different sound.

I admit it is hard to discern what a baby is communicating, but it sounded different than the cry of an unfilled need; it was more like the spiraling down that we can sometimes find ourselves in. Those moments when something goes wrong, and all of a sudden everything is wrong, and we find ourselves in a dark pit, unsure how to get out.

It seemed my new granddaughter was heading in this direction as her complaining escalated. Then I watched as her mother lovingly and gently moved towards her and tenderly tapped her on the nose softly repeating the words, “Focus, you need to re-focus.” It was as if mother was interrupting the downward spiral by inviting baby to come back to herself, center, and check in. Within seconds, baby became still, content in herself.

What the yoga masters tell us is that in our ignorance we can easily spiral into discontent. In that place, things become distorted, and we become victims of our thoughts and feelings. What to do? Choose a different focus, the masters tell us; when you find yourself getting lost in the peripheries of life, simply shift your attention to a higher quality of thought. Come back to yourself, center, and check-in; find the place of wisdom and discernment in you. This is a choice point for the mind; we can interrupt ourselves at any moment.

We may not have an outside source to tap us on the nose and remind us, but we, too, in those moments, can lovingly and gently “focus, re-focus” towards the present moment, towards what is good, towards a deep breath, towards what is true.

Our power is in our ability to choose where we put our attention. The mind can lead us towards despair or towards our innate happiness. My granddaughter is getting to learn this early.

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