24 March 2013

Where is your beam of awareness?

I've loved this past week.

I took some leave to accompany my husband on a trip to Queenstown on the southern island of New Zealand. He was to attend a conference and I thought 'what a great opportunity for a little downtime'. My husband is an accountant. The things at work that excite him bore me to tears so when he came home with a spare ticket to the conference I thought 'you must be joking - sit cooped up in a conference centre when I could be out enjoying the mountains? - Not a chance'. 

Anyway, two speakers caught my eye - Dandapani (a Hindu monk) and Natalie Cook (five time Olympian volleyball player and gold medallist at the Sydney Games in 2000). I figured I might just give up mountains for that... And I'm so glad I did!

While they were very different presenters they both talked about the same thing - how to sustain motivation when working towards a goal. How do we as humans learn to give something 100% effort and attention and how do we keep doing that past the honeymoon period.

It's easy to start something new, to focus on a change, and to set a goal - we have renewed vigour and a certainty that we are going to make it this time. As Natalie talked about this, I was reminded of all the diets I've started! But how do we sustain this and keep going? And as parents and teachers how do we teach this skill to our children?

Dandapani's messages about training the awareness, focusing on finishing what you start, finishing it well and doing a little better than you thought you could will stick with me, and I know I will use his 'monk tools' and analogies to make it easy for me to do and easy for kids to understand. Today's children are so distracted - they flit from one thing to another, giving everything only their light attention - a game for a few minutes, a text to a friend, a TV program interrupted by ad breaks and snack stops; sometimes it seems like they don't focus on anything for very long (and then complain they're bored!)

'Proceed with confidence.'
Dandapani teaches that the mind is everything we know, feel, see, touch, taste and hear and our awareness is like the beam of a torch that shines on what we are paying attention to at the time. When our awareness flits around like a search light at sea we get tired, we don't finish things, we appear 'scatty', we're not focused, it's hard to learn well, and sometimes we even get diagnosed with something too!

How good would it be to train our children to shine their beam of awareness for a sustained period of time on one thing and one thing only - this would create powerful learning opportunities and build the metal muscle needed to solve life's trickiest problems.

This week check where you are shining your torch light - is it flitting about or is it trained on one thing at a time? What we practise we get good at; so practising focusing our torches in our mind's eye for ever increasing amounts of time can only be a good thing.

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