Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Focus in Focus

I haven't written a post about my one little word since July, but that doesn't mean that I have not been practicing and trying to put it into action. Now that it's December 1, I figured it was definitely time to focus on my word (focus).

I chose the word last January after reading a post from Kym that contained this now-famous (to me, anyway) diagram: 

Balance ==> Focus ==> Intention. I felt like I really needed some focus in my life, and having chosen balance in 2019, this seemed a logical progression. But I struggled ... with my chosen word and so many other things this year. I suspect that most people felt the same way, and in March I wrote about making the effort to focus once again after ignoring my word for several months:

I'm going to make a return to Focus. It may be just a little, but I am making the effort. I am going to focus on meditation, mopping the kitchen floor, holding those dear to me along with some good friends close to my heart and in my thoughts, taking a walk even though the weather is poor, and maybe even some knitting tonight. That is enough for now. It will have to be because it's all I've got. 

Finally, in June, something clicked:

Like breath during meditation, Focus isn't something you attain and you are able to focus happily ever after once it's achieved. Some days and some months have made it feel almost impossible, but each time I am reminded of Focus, during daily meditations, asking myself "Is this how I want to be spending my time?", I can re-focus and calm my unsettled monkey mind.

It didn't hurt that I was diagnosed with depression in June and began talking to a counselor. Things have honestly been better since then. Even in the midst of a pandemic, feeling fear for the loss of work, experiencing the pain of kidney stones, worry for my own health and that of loved ones, and desperately missing friends and beloved family members, I can still feel some hope, and that makes it easier to focus. I think the most helpful tool for me has been daily meditation since June. It's become enough of a habit that I do it even on days that I don't really want to. I've used the 10% Happier app, but there are many other resources available. There is even a meditation from one of my favorite teachers, Jeff Warren, entitled "meditating even when you don't feel like it". 

“I cannot say this frequently enough: the goal is not to clear your mind but to focus your mind—for a few nanoseconds at a time—and whenever you become distracted, just start again. Getting lost and starting over is not failing at meditation, it is succeeding.”
~Jeff Warren

So I'm not sure where focus will lead me or what word I'll choose for next year, but I do know that I've learned a lot from focus this year (even after ignoring it for many months!) and feel confident that I'll continue to learn in the future.

Please visit HonorĂ© to read what she and others have shared about their words.


  1. Yes, yes, yes! I agree with you . . . we can never "achieve" focus. It's a constant practice! And meditation is such a great way to get there. I'm so glad you're feeling better (in the altogether AND in the specific -- with those nasty kidney stones) and more able to re-focus now. It's amazing what we CAN get through, isn't it? XO (That Winston Churchill quote is one I keep close all the time. Because truth!)

  2. I wonder if your wasn't "focus" but rather "refocus." I think you've done an excellent job of understanding your word and getting back to it when you feel like you've strayed away from it. It's been a hard year with many distractions, but clearly it's been one where you've learned a lot from focus.

  3. Glad to hear that meditation has been helpful to you Bonny. And so glad to read (yesterday) that your physical pain from the kidney stones has eased. Wishing you a pain-free and happy December!

  4. I'm so proud of you for circling back to focus and staying committed to it all year, especially when it was a struggle. And go you on the meditation practice!

  5. Well done, Bonny! Thank you for that Warren quote! It is perfect! I am going to share it with my daughter who is feeling very overwhelmed most days.

    I think Kym is very right... achieving focus is a constant practice! (one that is much easier than practicing intentional living, if you ask me, lol!)

  6. Bonny, while reading this post, a phrase came to my mind over and over. It's along the lines of 'some days our best is better than other days.' I think that shows up in meditation--and, oh my God, Jeff Warren gets it. Meditation for when you don't feel like meditating? Uh--brilliant. He sounds like the 'Adriene' of meditating! (for example, I google 'Yoga with Adriene Bad Mood' when I know that doing something with my body will help me, even when I don't feel like doing it. Similar camp!)

    1. Some days my best is downright pitiful, but other days it's not half-bad! Jeff Warren does get it. I find him funny, quietly calm, reassuring, and he's helped me to meditate even when I don't want to. I was so proud of myself for meditating while I had kidney stones - not well, but I still did it!

  7. It's a practice... like yoga. That makes so much more sense to me and makes me even think that I could "succeed" at meditating. Heh. I might succeed at a lot more things if I thought of them as a practice. :)

  8. You have inspired me to re-commit to daily meditation, which had fallen off lately. Congrats on your new focus, and thank you!

  9. Like everything in life, it is all about the practice, practice, practice! Jeff Warren is great, and so is Sharon Salzburg. She emphasizes being kind to ourselves and realizing that the essence of meditation is practice, lifelong practice. Every time you notice you have lost focus, that is an achievement. Think back to all the times you didn't even realize you had lost focus, so you have definitely made progress during a very bad year, and that's no small thing. I'm sorry to hear that you have been dealing with depression, Bonny. It runs in my family, and I have a constant low level of depression that is worse in the winter. My coping strategies include staying busy, exercising, daily use of a light box, and meditation. When I begin to feel sorry for myself, I just mentally slap myself and do something. Sounds lame, but it works for me. I hope you discover many more things that help you deal with it. Pat yourself on the back, Bonny! You have had one challenge after another this year, and you have achieved good things.

  10. Like others, I agree that focus is a practice and perhaps not a goal. Once someone told me or I read that noticing when my mind wandered was the point of meditating, I felt a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. You found the courage to focus and the courage to see help. Hopefully December brings us all closer to seeing (in person) and hugging those we love.

  11. You sound in such a good place! I am meditating twice lately and am working on so many personal goals. I pray you feel better each and every single day.

  12. The progress you've made is absolutely wonderful and I am so glad that you're feeling better all around too. These have been hard times my friend. I'm going to put that Churchill quote on the fridge!

  13. I love this link between meditation and focus ... it's counter-intuitive - at least to me! - because I think of meditation as helping us not focus on things. However, it really helps us recognize what our thoughts are up to. and that is a good first step to finding focus. Gosh, these words are magic, aren't they?!

  14. When you first talked about the 10% Happier app I checked into it and have used it almost daily since. I enjoy all of the teachers, the mediations, the talks, challenges, and the guidance. 10% is the only meditation app I've liked and stuck with. Thanks, Bonny!


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