Sunday, January 8, 2012

Ask Parvati 40: Distractions - Keeping Your Eye On The Prize - Part 1: Focus, Discipline and Courage

Dear Parvati,

Thank you for your posts. I found last week's particularly useful as it spoke to the way I want to make changes in my life this year. Though I love pursuing my life as a creative writer, I find I too often get pulled into listening to other people's problems. I can literally spend hours a day helping people. I am happy to help, but then I feel drained, with little energy left after my day job to pour into my creative pursuits. Any words of wisdom?


Thank you for this question. I understand the situation and often find myself needing to be quite ruthless with my time and how I spend it. Distractions always present themselves throughout the day. We must consciously choose how to spend our time and where to place our energy.


Whether you are pursuing the life of an artist, are making life changes or wish to start a creative venture, you must have focus, discipline and courage. If you have not yet read Amma's New Year's message, she addresses this to some extent by reminding us that our most valuable asset we have is time, which we too often squander. Keeping focused on the purpose of our life is paramount, especially as we move through the day and encounter seemingly small things that become large obstacles and that take us off path.


If you are not familiar with Julia Cameron's book "The Artist's Way", check it out. Her work helps keep artists on path and stay true to their calling. Her practical and straightforward exercises help bring people's life into authentic alignment with their soul's creative voice.


Last year, I had a long chat with a friend of mine about this very issue, how to remain focused as you follow your dreams. At this point, this friend of mine has become quite famous and is now a mentor to many about how to make it on your own terms. She told me how she focuses on her goals like she is shooting a water pistol at a ballon. It requires focused aim. She also noted that as soon as she loses her focus, she immediately sees it reflected in her success rate, her popularity and her income. To counter this, she has a personal policy that she calls "knife for life", not being afraid to 'say it like she sees it', fiercely choosing where she places her energy and with whom she spends her time.


This is her way to keep her eye on the prize. Because of her focus, clarity and determination, she now does not easily get entangled with people with needy energy, but has, nonetheless, created a life where she helps those in need. Her books, public appearances and media presence touch many more people and inspire them to find their way, far more effectively than if she got lost in in daily distractions that pull her from her path.


That is the wonderful thing about life. When we say yes to our highest purpose, ultimately, everyone wins. The person with whom you get entangled on the phone for hours that you allow to pull you away from what you love, could perhaps be better helped by someone else, or perhaps by reading the book you really want to write. Getting entangled in situations that make us less than we are and pull us off path, are a lose-lose dynamic. It is like jumping into the water to save a drowning person. When we allow ourselves to stay on path and stand our solid ground, we can be of far greater service to ourselves and therefore to others. From that solid footing, we can extend an helping hand to those in need without losing ourselves.


Today, ask yourself, the following questions:

1) What in your life drains your energy?

2) Why do you feel you are attached to it?

3) What do you feel your ego gains from being attached to it?

4) What would your life look like and how would you feel without it?

5) Are you totally open, ready and willing to get it go?

6) What do you need to realign within yourself to let it go?

7) What practical steps do you need to take in order to do so?


Now, get going to make those changes. If you want it, you got it. But do you really want it? We need to regularly ask ourselves this sobering question. We often stay stuck playing it small because it feels easier and safer to let life slip by. But at what cost? The cost of your deepest joy and true heart desire? Are you really willing to let that go in exchange for fear and temporary comforts? Think long and hard about that. What is the cost of not following your dreams? When we bring our full selves into what we are doing and free ourselves from limiting beliefs and hindering habits, we find the life we had been hoping to find.


Continues tomorrow with "Is It An Opportunity Or A Distraction?"

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