Focus: the beauty of “no” and the softness of “yes”

Today’s post is written by Scoutie Girl Tara Gentile. You may remember that my word of the year is “Focus”. I’ve asked Tara to share her thoughts on Focus with us!

Source: “May You Travel the World” by Lori Portka

Focus is something most of us struggle with most of the time.

Finding focus, shifting focus, keeping focus.

It’s like there’s a war on our ability to hold on to a single idea throughout a day!

What is really beautiful about finding and holding focus, though, is its ability to guide us towards a productive “no” and a soft “yes”.

the beauty of “no”

“No” is a hard word to say. We’re trained to be “yes” women. Yes, I’ll help with the carpool. Yes, I’ll make dinner. Yes, I’ll take on that extra project. Yes, I’ll organize the party. Yes, I’ll watch another show tonight. Yes, I’ll bring the salad course.

“Yes” has gotten stale and moldy. It’s said begrudgingly.

Our work lives and our personal lives are constantly inundated with opportunities to say “yes.” The world is daring us to accept one more obligation, participate in one more responsibility.

Yes, I will put my goals and needs aside for yours.

Yes, I’ll do more of what doesn’t work and less of what does.

Saying “yes” is a result of lost focus. Saying “yes” is a stab in the dark.

It’s time to reclaim your “no.”

No, I can’t. No, I won’t. No, not now. Or ever.

Finding your focus – one that promises to sustain you, nurture you, guide you – makes “no” an affirming statement, not a negative one.

“No” has purpose and substance. “Yes” is merely polite.

the softness of a fresh “yes”

“Yes,” of course, is not all bad. Focus helps us find a fresh “yes.” Saying “yes” becomes becomes an internal guage. A motivating kick in the pants.

In focus, the key is discovering a softer “yes.” One that has wiggle room, a light touch, a calm gaze.

This is the focus of yoga. If you’ve ever attempted a tree pose, you’ll know that soft focus.

One leg on the ground. Arms raised. Slight breeze.

With no focus, you blow over. With soft focus, you rest.

Gwen Bell described yogic focus thusly:

The drishti is, loosely (and secularly) translated, a focal point.
It’s a place a few inches or feet in front of you – set your intention and attention lightly upon it – and discover focus. It’s a place where we’re both aware of our asymmetry and able to cultivate alignment from that place of understanding.

Gwen’s idea is that we’re all profoundly asymmetric. Yoga – and heck, just about everything we do on a daily basis – heightens our awareness of that asymmetry. It’s not a bad thing – it just is. We learn to deal with it, engage it, embrace it.

Alignment is balance. Quite literally, of course, in yoga. But also in daily life. Balance isn’t the evening of scales, it’s a force that stabilizes our innate asymmetry.

In this case, your asymmetry is your “no.” It’s being able to hang on to some things and shed others. It’s not a grab for same sidedness. It’s an unequal cleansing of your intention.

Your alignment is a positive, affirming “yes.” Say “yes” to the things that make you feel steady, shining, flowing, growing. That’s the unique sense of balance that comes from even the most awkward asymmetry of position.

That kind of alignment can’t be forced (the way your “yesses” normally are).

It’s a soft “yes.” Soft because you whisper it out of unexpected joy. Soft because it’s frightening in its rightness. Soft because you just might crush it if you hold it too firmly.

“Yes” and “No” work together in asymmetry & alignment according to our focus.

Back to focus…

So what is it that you are trying to focus on? What results are you trying to achieve? What is your goal?

There are forces that will tip you off your focus. They’ll block you’re gaze. What will you say “no” to?

There are also forces that steady your position. They’ll calm your nerves, strengthen you, and guide you. What will you say a soft “yes” to?

Finding focus is the key to creating a solid plan of action toward our goals. Nurture your ability to utter the “no” and the soft “yes” you need to move forward

Well, Scoutie Girl Tara Gentile has done it again. She’s starting a new e-course called “The Art of Action“, it’s a digital program to help artists of all sorts make big stuff happen.There’s something pretty special about this launch… for every seat that sells, she’ll be GIVING a seat to someone who’s lost their job (and all their momentum…) due to the recession. It’s time to get people back on their feet!

The course starts March 7, go find out about it right now!

2 Responses

  1. Terror. Sheer terror. Seems like for the hundred times I said “yes” before, it was the right sort of yes, and now there are so many more balls in the air to juggle with kids and camps and teachers’ conferences and leaky pipes and “mom will you do a craft project with me??” and should they be reading or playing or eating a carrot or having a playdate?

    Terror. Sheer. Terror.

  2. great guest post! “In focus, the key is discovering a softer “yes.” One that has wiggle room, a light touch, a calm gaze.” I want to hold onto that line and remember it. I do yoga and that makes total sense but in life and work I seem to swing from extremes. Saying yes all the time to saying no all the time – a soft flexible yes sounds just right!