F.O.C.U.S (F.inding O.ne’s C.enter U.nder S.tress) through Opposition
Written by johnsonchong on February 11, 2017
“We often need an outside source to show us our need for an adjustment in focus, and when we finally acknowledge our need, the truth presents the wonderful ability to see clearly again.” Ben Baughman, Untracked
Opposition is seen everywhere in life. It is reflected in every aspect of nature. The opposing forces of the proton and the electron literally create the foundation of physics in this universe. Every day has its night, every wave rises and falls while every inhale is followed by an exhale. Opposition is even reflected in our relationships with other people. No matter how enlightened one may become, it is undeniable that everyone has experienced relationships that are on the difficult side of the spectrum and its contrast.
In chapter 2.33 of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, there is an ancient mantra in Sanskrit that says “Vitarkabadhane pratipaksha bhavanam” which very plainly teaches us to accept the opposite. Often times, yoga scholars interpret this as – “instead of thinking harmful and negative thoughts, cultivate more positive thoughts of love, kindness and compassion.” This paints only part of the picture. If we truly adopt this concept of accepting the opposite, we need to acknowledge both light and dark that resides within each of us. There are many New Age schools that are imparting the illusion that light is better than dark. Just because the light is turned off in the basement, doesn’t mean the basement doesn’t exist.
The first phase of this yoga sutra teaches us that if we are plagued by a lot of negativity, then we should turn everything on its head. Transmute the attitude of “I can’t” to “Yes, I can”. This “fake it til you make it” motto is easier said than done. But with enough practice, we become skillful at reprogramming our behaviors and attitudes towards ourselves and others. Equally so, if we are obsessed with keeping everything picture perfect and looking “good” on the outside, and denying all the skeletons in the closet – a huge acceptance of our shadow Self is required before we can align to our True center.
“Pleasantville” is just an illusion. We are perfect within our own imperfections. By denying the skeletons in our closet, doesn’t mean the skeletons don’t exist. In both cases, the point with all of our mindfulness classes in movement, meditation and healing is not to climb a linear ladder to some magic place to escape our problems. It is about constant practice of unifying the two halves of ourselves, and returning to a state of Oneness. And that process is spherical and a bumpy roller coaster ride.
We can intellectually accept light and dark, as an idea that is trapped in the construct of MIND; but until we acknowledge feelings and sensations of “good” and “bad” exist in our physical bodies as energy, the portrait is not complete.
Our nervous system actually desires stillness through concentrated focus. Multi-tasking only wears down the immune system and makes us feel bogged down and broken. The yoga practice, and any mindful movement practice like Pilates or Gyrotonic, create the opportunity to F.O.C.U.S (F.ind O.ur C.enter U.nder S.tress). We can only truly experience joy and happiness when we are not worried about the past or the future. Modern human beings are constantly mired with thoughts of judgments and usually worries of things that have already happened or not yet passed. Focus brings us to a zero point, where we are not pulled to the extremes of past or future. We stay in the here and NOW. So when we spend time on ourselves, for an hour or so, we allow the development of our concentration and focus to see what really is going on firstly on the physical level, followed the subtler aspects of our emotional, energetic, and psychic bodies.
So how do we start unifying our points of opposition? Start in the body. Identify what’s going on. Where are the ‘skeletons’ and what how do they make you feel? Create a list. Hamstrings feel tight, shoulders are stiff, spine is inflexible, etc. The lights that were turned on only in our headspace are now being switched on everywhere else in the house. We now are operating with our whole being, all of our senses. Sooner or later, the ‘hows’ and ‘whys’ of why things are the way they are in your physical, mental and emotional space will reveal themselves to you, because you are so connected to the present moment. And it is through this connection to our WHOLE being, that we feel a sense of peace. And with enough consistent practice, our mind body spirit system yearns to feel this more and more. Our attitudes and our old modes of operating will gradually evolve to constantly seek for CENTER. In these chaotic times, it is increasingly important to practice focus and concentration on our internal landscape until we emanate Wholeness on every level so that the fabric of our collective human Consciousness is forever changed.