Energy Flows Where Attention Goes
While preparing for savasana in my yoga class on Monday morning my instructor quoted one of the seven Hawaiian–Huna–life principles for us to meditate and focus on during our corpse pose relaxation/meditation. My practice that day had been a struggle–my back was giving me fits and I was ready to settle into my mat and not move. I heard his words, “energy flows where attention goes” and while they struck me in the moment–which often happens for me and words–I was tired. I was discouraged. I was hurting. I filed them in the back of my mind and settled into a restless savanna.
Today, his words came leaping into my mind as I headed out the door for my walk. I quickly googled the phrase before I left–there are many interpretations–and repeated it over and over in my mind trying to solidify its word order, so that I could ponder its meaning.
As I walked down our road I veered off and into the field, walking through the woods and beans. The words came clearer into focus for me as I walked with the sunshine on my shoulders, leaves leaving their robust summer green behind and acorns peppering the ground I realized why the words were powerful for me today.
The thought is that we create our reality with our attention–if we are focused on why things are not working, why we are struggling we continue to create the dysfunction and the struggle. I spend a lot of time worrying about our schedule–is it too much, do we have enough family time, I am so tired, I can’t do this anymore, I need to slow down, we can’t get it all done. I am no different than any other mother we are no busier than any other family–and I can’t seem to find a way to slow down. I can’t seem to find a way to create more balance or more peace from the chaos.
The funny thing is, I am by nature, a positive person. Sure, I worry, that’s what we do as moms (and dads), but my go to response is inherently that everything will be ok, it will all work out, enjoy the ride. For some reason–and I have a few theories–I haven’t been able to do that with our schedule in the past year or two. I haven’t felt–everything will be ok, it will all work out. I feel a sense of restlessness, ambiguity, uncertainty instead.
I have sat and stared at the calendar willing something to be cancelled. I have hovered my blinking arrow over appointment times and wished to click delete. But the truth of the matter is that a large majority of what is there–I don’t have a choice about, not really (yes, I know, we always have a choice …). Aiden has to go to physical therapy. Cooper has to fill out his college applications, Jackson has to finish his chemistry lab with his partner who lives across town, Eric has to go to work, the bills have to get paid, the laundry has to get done (again with the laundry …). It is what it is. True, there are things that are by choice — the MSU football game, cake for Louie’s birthday, dinner out with friends — but those are the sweet spots, the things we can’t miss because our hearts need them. As I walked I began to wonder: What if I made a different choice?
What if I choose to stop sending my energy down the path of “I am tired. I can’t do this. I am too busy. We are too busy. This needs to stop.” What if instead I focused my attention on what we do accomplish, what we do handle every day. What if I took my attention and drew pride from the fact that I manage a family of 5, work, write and create relationships by those activities. When I look behind me at the summer we just survived–the calendar looks exhausting–but what’s in my mind, what’s in my heart are memories, connections, sweet spots that I wouldn’t have without this break neck pace.
It’s not just our schedule that pulls from me–there are a few people in my life who leave me feeling exhausted, irritated. I may spend hours over the course of a few days ruminating on what they’ve said, how they have been biased or inauthentic. I send them my energy as my attention returns to them. It’s not them who leaves me exhausted…it’s me. I will work on that as well.
It’s even fitting for my ever present back pain. The more attention I give it, the more energy I lose, the more power it gains. And another thing to work on …
This is a small revelation, I am aware, and in some ways I’m embarrassed that it is so elementary, but for me today–the power is great. A reminder of sorts, that I can control the energy I put out into the world. I can also control the energy I let in. It’s also a reminder of the power of words. The power of thought. Words can destroy and build, love and hurt, inspire and defeat, heal and wound. A reminder to choose my words and my attention wisely.