Where our focus is, there we go.
We were taking our bikes for a little spin around Lake Dillon, when I noticed Chris turning his gaze to the right, and before he knew it, he was off the bike path and coming to a screeching halt; just in time to miss the jagged rocky damn below. A slight turn of the head, caused an adjustment to the shoulders, which turned the handle bars and the next thing he knew, he was moments from a potential wipe out. One time, while I was driving my car, I rear ended someone because I briefly took my eyes off the road, to look at a car for sale in the passing parking lot, just to discover too late that the car in front of me was stopping! Oops. We all can relate to moments in life like this where we wished we had dulled distractions and kept our “eyes on the road and hands upon the wheel” (Thank you, The Doors).
In unpacking the J’ogi’s Path to Freedom with the help of Jesus, our Tree of Life, I come to the 4th principle for practice: Focusing Concentration.
Whether you are beginning to practice Christian yoga, or are a seasoned veteran, our faith and yoga path is continually on a path of learning and growing, like the limbs of a tree. A seed is planted, nurtured, and pruned in the hopes of getting so big that even the birds can find a home in the branches (Matthew 13:32). To climb into the limbs of Jesus, our Tree of life, frees us from the limits we place on ourselves and the areas in life that keep us stuck. The work on our mat helps us to develop seeing with the eyes freeing us from being overrun with the senses.
Yoga isn’t just another form of exercise but rather it’s a place where the physical body integrates the mental and spiritual. The work we do on our yoga mat is very personal and isn’t about competing with the person next to us. We approach our mat being present, not perfect, where we are looking inside ourselves and not comparing with self or others. The path of growth in strength and flexibility is as individual as there are snowflakes. Remembering that everyone is in a process and to divert focus inward and on personal growth will set the mind free from distractions. Comparison is a killer and glancing over to your neighbor’s abilities can negatively affect your stability on your own mat.
In the Bible, there's 478 verses that speak to the eyes: they are the lamp to the body (Matthew 6:22), seeing is equated to blessedness (Matthew 13:16), keep the eyes forward, and not to the left or to the right (Proverbs 4:27), keep straining towards what’s ahead helps free us from our past and offers hope for the future (Philippians 3:13), a plank in our own eye is hard to see and admit (Matthew 7:3), just to name a few.
What does it mean to embody these truths about eyes? We can take what we learn about God’s word on spiritual focus and apply it to the work on our mat. To fine tune how we use our eyes plays a role in our success in practicing yoga. Most yoga classes include verbal cues or suggestions from your instructor at to where you are to set the eyes for different poses. Some poses include shutting the eyelids, some have an upward gaze, while others include staring down. Our eyes are the windows to the soul and it just might matters what we give them the opportunity to see.
Specifically, balancing poses require a laser focus of keeping the eyes fixed on one, unmoving point, such as a spot on the floor or wall. With this locked in gaze, the world tends to melt away. There’s less wobbling and a greater probability for success in holding the pose. If we take our eyes off that spot, and allow the eyes to wander, it can cause a disruption in the ability to stay balanced resulting in falling out of the pose.
Jesus is our unmoving spot. You feel off balance? What are you focusing on? What are you allowing to penetrate? Take time to inventory what you are allowing your eyes to bring into focus. After Peter bravely stepped out of the boat he took his gaze off Jesus and onto the water's surface and that's when Peter began to sense that he was sinking. The object in our practice is to take that which we learn on the mat, into our daily lives. Practice looking up at heaven and notice how your worldly circumstances begin to dullen. Expect to grow in your faith as you embrace this principle of focusing concentration.
Join us for a gentle flow of breath, moving meditation and all eyes on God's word this week. We have graciously been offered a place to hold class on Wednesday at noon: 7905 W 120th, Broomfield, inside Harvest Today. Bring your mat and a water bottle. Also on Facebook Live https://www.facebook.com/frogposeyoga/live_videos/