Focusing on the Flames

Lately I have felt sleepy. Sort of foggy-headed. Unmotivated and uninspired.

Finally, this morning, not wanting to get sucked into thoughts about- “Something’s wrong”, “Gotta DO something to fix this”, I headed to the cottage. Without an agenda.

Just to breathe. And let things settle. Hoping for some clarity.

Without fail, after sitting in that simple, natural space, I felt the fog lift.

What is it about this place that makes the airways open and the mind clear?

This time, I found myself staring at the fire in the woodstove.

Skipping my recently stale sitting practice, I simply watched the fire.

Drawn in… by the flickering, dancing flames wrapping delicately under and around the shrinking hardwood… blue sparks opening into white, orange, and yellow-tipped flames.

Surges of liquid heat. Bursting forth, then receding. Constant movement and color.

Ahhh…. Mesmerizing. Calming.       And surprisingly energizing.

After 20 minutes of focused attention on that little fire, I felt quite refreshed!

Hmmmmmm. How interesting.  This made me curious.

How could 20 minutes of uninterrupted fire-watching bring more clarity and physical energy than 4 hours yesterday dabbling in garden planning, Facebook correspondence, and list-making?

 

I think the difference is not in the tasks so much as  focusing vs dabbling.

Christine Kane, in her newest blog, identifies the problem as “ATTENTION SPLATTER”.  She describes the feeling after working at home all day, visiting the fridge dozens of time just snacking.

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“What happens in this scenario is that you eat all day, but you never feel satisfied. By 5pm, you’re strung out, unfulfilled, and you wonder why.

Here’s why:

You ate. But you never actually fed yourself.

We do this exact same thing with our FOCUS. We dabble in random things. But we never really commit to anything.

I call it Attention Splatter.  It’s when you mindlessly and half-heartedly splatter your attention and focus on non-activities. But you never fully engage.

Remember this: Your attention ultimately feeds you. It feeds your heart and your mind. This is why it’s so important to notice what you give your attention to. This is also why splattered attention leaves you unfulfilled. You never actually feed yourself.”

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That’s it! The reason I have felt so low-energy and undirected lately is because I’ve been sprinkling my attention all over- in every room in the house, every project on the farm- without truly committing full presence to anything.

Ah-hah! I see it. I’m all over the map.

This winter, we’ve initiated dozens of projects around the farm; starting a barn, planning a high tunnel garden, moving the animals around, strategic planning, fixing this, changing that. Plus, the cold weather keeps me inside closer to the computer and its seductive Facebook chatter about multiple, interesting topics. And, in my spare time, I’m perusing four different  books:  Buddha’s Brain; Care and Feeding of Goats; Women Food and God and a new novel.

Yes, I’m dabbling. Not focusing my attention.  I’m simply leaking my presence all over the place.

But, in contrast, this morning by that cottage fire, I was engaged. Drawn in. Completely focused on what was in front of me.

My mind quieted and body refueled from that simple act of concentration.

So, I think I will commit to some concentration practices for awhile – first in my daily meditation sit and then in my daily activities.

Staying with one thing at a time is like turning the garden hose setting from “shower” to “jet”.

Concentrated focus is cleansing. It’s powerful…

And it saves energy!

5 responses to “Focusing on the Flames”

  1. Brenda Dolly - "Earth Angel"

    Dearest Beth: You are sooo descriptive, I can nearly feel the things you describe…And then, to add the pictures – perfect!!!
    I so agree with all you say, as I have been somewhat the same way, until I did a 3 Days Fasting/Prayers last week…Feeling “Refocused” and ready to delve into what Creator has in store for me in 2013…Feeling a calm and peace about the world now, even though the Media may try and convince us otherwise…”Perception” means everything. As for me, I am seeing “Heaven on Earth.”

    Love and Light,
    Brenda – “Earth Angel”

  2. Leenie

    Right on time! I am by nature like the goats I so love. In nature goats are browsers; heads up, ears and eyes alert, nibbling first this plant, then that one, always moving, tasting, open to the new and what’s just around the corner. Then later, they just sit and ruminate and digest the myriad impressions. Both are needed for full nourishment. Dabbling fulfills a need in me to see what all is available, nibble, taste. (This is why people often think goats will “eat anything.” Actually, they are quite picky but a goat learns about her world by tasting it…putting it in contact with her taste buds but she will just as readily spit out what does not pass her discerning palate.) I’ve been quite ill recently and it has allowed me to be truly renewed in the power of focus and see that I was spending an inordinate amount of time “tasting” and far too little time “ruminating”. I’ve read about a book a day while sick. I’ve written in my journal daily. And I just sat and breathed daily as I gained a new appreciation for this moment by moment act that I had taken for granted. Gradually, as I have gained energy and health I’ve chosen ONE thing to try to accomplish each day. Just as an example, yesterday I cleaned out a room that had been on my to-do list for two years! I had to pause and decide about what to keep and what to pass along; consciously choose places for what still served, which involved conscious decisions about the priorities of my life as it is now. Tasting, ruminating…breathing in, breathing out…the dance of attending, sometimes leading, sometimes following…

  3. Diane Jennings

    Enjoyed immensely. Deepak talks about intention AND attention over a prolonged period of time in, “The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success.” I had trouble grasping the why of the attention. Your blog clarifies that. Explains the energy born from it.

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