Have you ever played a sport where you threw, hit, or kicked a ball? You will have heard the maxim, “keep your eye on the ball”. It’s harder to hit something if you are looking somewhere else. Similarly you learn to focus on where you want the ball to go after you’ve connected. This may be done with your eyes, but also with a stance or body posture. If you have played the game a lot you will get to the place where you simply hold the intension and your body carries through to direct the ball to the proper place.
Riding a horse or driving a boat or car is similar; you need to look where you want to go, rather than where you are afraid of going. The horse or the vehicle will inevitably follow your eyes either way. You must focus on the way around tree you want to miss, not the tree.
It may seem simple to set an intention and focus on it, but life is full of distractions. Sometimes they are external like the tree, and sometimes they are internal, like your fear of the tree.
I recently saw a classic W.C.Fields routine where he is supposed to open a new golf course by taking the first shot off the tee. However, he has never played golf and is very easily distracted. It’s clear that he is too nervous to really want to hit the ball. All the distractions are excuses to put off something he would rather not do. It is his internal lack of focus that allows the obvious external distractions to be effective.
External obstacles that we must navigate only distract us when we are internally fearful. Our fears will alter the perceived situation, minimizing the positive possibilities and exaggerating the negative, drawing our attention away from our intention and guiding us into that huge tree.
Human beings are complex. We operate on many levels at the same time: physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. Some parts of each level are conscious, and others are unconscious. While we may have a clear conscious intention and goal, the various unconscious aspects may be focused in a different direction. This focus is sometimes attractive, wanting something different, and other times resistive, reacting to associated fears.
One of the aspects of self knowledge that comes from inner inquiry, is learning what all these secondary intentions and fears are, so that you can sort them out, and forge a unified intention, and compensate for anything that tends to throw you off.
When you have internal distractions, other people can move you from your core intention by engaging a secondary or unconscious intention. Pride often works this way. If our sense of self importance trumps our intention to accomplish particular tasks, we can be easily distracted and loose our way. Fear and anger can also often have this affect.
Working in groups, creating ceremonies, or in personal relationships, take time to sort out what the really important intentions or goals are, and which are secondary. Without judgement you can maintain focus, trim what’s distracting, and focus on what supports the core intention.
The better you know yourself, the more clearly you will be able to define and focus on the intentions that truly serve you, truly express your essential self and the fewer handles there will be for external distractions to lead you off course. With a focused intent, free from fear, you will come safely through any obstacles and arrive successfully at your goal.