Focus doesn’t just help to balance things inside of you, it also helps to balance things outside of you. At my last Kung Fu class, our Sijo showed us, first hand, what happens when we choose to focus on a single point, and what happens when we don’t.
The example our Sijo gave us in class occurred while practicing our 13-directional dragon kicks. Since I’ve only been training for a couple months, I have a lot of habits that need to be changed. One of them is switching directions and not paying any real attention to what I’m switching to. This results in me not being able to hold my balance on one leg for much longer than 5 seconds. However, Sijo showed us a very neat trick. He pulled out a student, got her to raise one leg, kick, then try to switch direction. After only three seconds, her leg gave in, and she lost her balance. He then walked over to an adjacent wall and asked her to stare at a position he pointed to. To her own amazement, she lasted a good 10-20 seconds without falling over! Sijo then asked us to all do the same – look in all four directions before starting, choose a point to focus on, then re-try the 13-directional dragon kicks. To my own amazement, I was falling over a lot less too! It was almost as if magic had been performed on me but, in reality, it was just me being aware of focusing.
When you try to switch directions, without focusing on something before you switch, your balance can go all whack. This is good advice for life in general. If you don’t know where you’re headed, whether external or internal (physical or mental), you’ll either never reach your destination, or you’ll get distracted and fall over unnecessarily. Essentially, you can lose your Way or get lost.
The above point is illustrated most eloquently in a documentary I watched recently about the Polynesian Wayfinders (navigate to 1:44 in the below clip):
In the above video, old man Mau tells his apprentice, “Keep that image in your mind. If you lose it, then you’re gonna be lost.” Although my example from Kung Fu class involved the ability to focus on something physical, it was perfectly suited to the situation because it was my physical body that was being “lost.” When it comes to real-life, and achieving our dreams or goals, our point of focus must come from within. It must be a single point in our mind’s eye that helps keep ourselves on track and in balance. That way, no matter what comes our way, we will continue the course because that deep, inner-knowing urges us to push forward despite the setbacks. Before European colonists and seafarers arrived, Polynesian Wayfinders relied heavily on this inner knowing to successfully navigate the open seas when weather conditions proved unfavorable, unreadable, or intolerable. It gave them unwavering determination to reach their target, even when all hope seemed lost. If you want to see this steadfast determination, or deeper inner knowing, replicated in Mother Nature, look no further than the salmon.
The All-Knowing Salmon
According to whats-your-sign.com, “the salmon totem represents wisdom, inner-knowing, intuition, generosity, confidence, determination, infectious enthusiasm, and intelligence. They have a need for purpose and goals and will fight the currents of life to reach their destination. They yield a sense of purpose that cannot be stopped by outside forces.” If that’s not enough to motivate you, then go out and find some hardships to get you to be motivated!
When you choose something to focus on, you bring the rest of yourself into a state of balance. The journey doesn’t end there, though, because you may also need other things to keep yourself in that state of balance (in the case of the 13-directional, it’s basic leg conditioning to support your weight in one position for prolonged periods). However, understanding that first concept of singular focus really goes a long way, especially when the results can be shown infront of your own eyes! Now, go out and establish that single point of focus for your Self in your mind’s eye.
Manuia (God bless)