External Focus

In my 26th trip around the sun I bought my first home, shuttered the doors of a startup, fell in love and unraveled that love.

These events have left me often crestfallen, even elated at times, but overwhelmingly inwardly focused.

How was I able to be that person? Am I that person? What does it say about me then that…..? Where do my goals take me, and why have them at all? What is really true? How does someone know when they find truth?

I live in a time and place where it has never been more acceptable to inwardly gaze. Amongst my creative class peer group it is not uncommon to seek the wisdom of both Shaman, and Therapist. We meditate with aggression. Attend sound healings with abandon. Travel often without any purpose.

We are “manifesting”. We are curating breath-taking images of our lives to project our personal brands and best selves.

Wealth! Love! (sometimes universal, and now often polyamorous). Succulent filled dream homes with puppy/child/spouse to match!

I personally am exhausted. I am tired of thinking about myself.

How often can I inwardly gaze before it becomes toxic? Is there a point at which my quest for personal development is in fact its own undoing?

I have recently taken up the game of golf. I found that after I learned the basic golf-swing mechanics, it was the mental game that heavily dictated my performance at the tee.

When I swung at the ball with my thoughts roaming from Spicer’s latest anti-semitic bungle to my own feelings of worthlessness, that damn ball was bound to travel in any direction besides towards the hole.

However if I was able to truly put my mind on the ball in front of me, and only the ball, I had a chance. In the field of motor learning this is called external attentional focus.

It began to dawn on me that our bodies may have something to teach us about how we might want to treat our emotional activities. Is it possible that our own growth and personal development could be well served by a heftier dose of external focus?

Perhaps the pendulum has swung too far into the wrong direction. A culture of self-exploration and awareness is a gorgeous part of the modern world, and something to certainly be cherished and protected.

And yet….

As we are awash in a technology induced coma of pixels of longing and desire, perhaps our greatest salve may be looking outward more often. How can we offer aid to the those in pain around us? What can we do to remedy something we believe to be unjust? No heroic actions need to be taken. No altruistic intentions are even required. Only perhaps the striking reality that the cure for our general malaise, our apathy, our depression, may simply be to reengage in the world in a deeply empathetic way.

What if the greatest guru, and seminar of your life was as simple (and affordable) as deeply engaging in the alleviation of the suffering of others and putting your attention and focus there. How might your life change?