11 years ago I suffered a severe Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). A few life saving, and plastic, surgeries later, the medical staff warned my family and friends the recovery would be LONG. While they were spot on about that, they were mostly wrong in saying I’d reemerge foul-mouthed, angry, and confused. Though I was certainly confused, my demeanor and communications were mainly peaceful and Loving. Why? Because, like we practice in yoga, when we have a steady and stable focal point (or center), which we call a Drishti, our being is more calm and collected amidst the storms.
As a yoga teacher, one of my favorite things to tell students is to gaze steadily at and through a single, unmoving object, “like you’ve drank the perfect amount of wine.” When we look upon something with soft eyes we imbue our body and mind with both a sense of calm and connection. It’s equal parts stability and expansion. What I’m playfully getting at with my phrase is a big Truth: Fix your gaze on what you want to become. I say this because I’ve found in life: We become increasingly like what/who we focus our attention on.
A different way of talking about this same thing is to ask: What centers you? What do you and I hug in our innermost self? What lights us up from the inside out, hopefully in all situations?
With that in mind, let’s talk about a bit of recent and more distant history. Before I briefly talk about politics, I’ll first ask you and I to put our political ideas and affiliations aside … Ready? Okay. As champions for equality and diversity, I hope we can see how electing the U.S.’s first black president in 2008 could be viewed as a step forward for humanity. With that in mind, many people were highly hopeful we’d make more progress in 2016 by electing our first female president … but we didn’t. Good people who had anticipated this were devastated that “humanity” had let them down. On the flip side, though, it seems to me a good chunk of the people who voted for Trump did so because they felt similarly unseen and unheard by Clinton.
On a bigger level, something similar happened from the late 1800s into the first half of the 1900s. During the era of Modernity, humanity, with all our technological inventions, medical cures, increased education, and more, seemed to be ascending to blissful heights. Yet, then World War I, the Great Depression, World War II, and the Holocaust happened. These horrors propelled us from Modernity into Postmodernity; from believing humanity had ALL the answers into questioning if we had ANY of them.
Now I’ll be the first to shout from the roofs that it’s awesome to be human and people are incredible. I make no qualms about having a high view of humanity … AND … for all our amazingness, to be human is to make mistakes, mess up, hurt people, get off-track, and so on. Period. (And that’s not even getting into the currents of evil in the world that can fool, captivate, and/or enslave us!) I honestly think history, rationality, life experiences, and our hearts show us humans make for an unstable center. I believe we need a Drishti, a focal point for our lives, that’s bigger than and beyond ourselves! That’s been my experience at least, you might have a different one and I’d love to hear about it.
One of the things I dig about the Bible is a good number of its stories are archetypal, in that they paint pictures of patterns of behavior common to people throughout history. Consider the story of the Tower of Babel. This talks about how a group of powerful ancient people tried to build their version of a skyscraper to heaven. Suffice it to say, they didn’t make it! It seems to me this mentality is common to us all, though. Both individually and collectively we try to “build” our way to paradise, yet we eventually fail, perhaps realizing heaven comes to us as a free gift from Above!
When I’ve focused and centered my life on myself, a partner, my family, my job, wealth, fame, and other passing things, life has always gone south for me. This is part of why Christ is everything for me. The more I find my identity, value, worth, belonging, and Love in the Christ, the more heaven has become a daily reality for me here and now. This is my Drishti.
Christ, in my experience and beliefs, is a powerful name for God because it shows us both awesomeness and intimacy in the Divine. In my Christian tradition, the Christ is the creative energy and force that designed humanity and reality, birthed us, enlivens us, and connects us all together. What is more, this cosmic dynamism also took on flesh and became a human in the form of Jesus, the Prince of Peace. Our heavenly Creator, Sustainer, and Healer, then is both mind-blowingly BIG and tenderly near, knowable, taste-able, and touchable to us. Christ is Light, Love, and Life, and to experience those, I believe, is to experience the Divine.
When I hear my “wise guide on the inside”, trust my gut, feel the joy that’s always inside, savor the peace that’s constantly within, and taste the unending Love continuously filling my heart, I’m convinced they are Christ in me. Please note, just because I think these realities are “always “in me from Christ, doesn’t mean I constantly experience them, as I don’t. That said, the more I center my gaze and self on the Christ, the more my being is infused with the Divine energies of Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
We become what we fix our gaze on, and what we hold in our center makes all the difference in the world amidst the craziness of life. What have you found works and doesn’t work for you? How does my experience of the Christ land with you? Thanks for reading and I hope you have a beautiful day!
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MUCH Love and Many Hugs,
Again, I love this post and it is an honor to call you my “brother.” I love how your writings interlace our Christian journey and our yoga practice together.
I heard a quote not long ago that sums up what I believe you are saying here, “What we focus on, we magnify.” It’s being intentional. It’s being present. It’s a willingness to lean into the struggle and focus on that joy deep within that is Christ in us. Admittedly, my yoga practice reveals I am still VERY MUCH in progress. But I like that word: progress. It implies movement—and I’ll take that! 🙂
🙂 Thanks “sister”, much appreciated! It’s really fun to blend the two together. I see SO many points of harmony and similarity in Christianity and yoga it’s ridiculous (in a great way)! Great quote. Progress is fantastic! I’m definitely in process too, good days/moments and not so good ones. 🙂 In my good moments I celebrate the journey as it is and rest in Christ. 🙂