Where we direct our attention determines our predominant thoughts and, ultimately, what our experiences will be. One of the great blessings of having a human incarnation is choosing where we place our attention. When consciously exercising that choice, this power can help us successfully navigate through challenging life experiences.
The consequences of choosing where we place our attention were highlighted for me as I thought about events that took place recently. Specifically, the deadly shooting at a Boulder, Colorado grocery store, where ten people were killed, including a police officer. This tragedy came on the heal of a gunman who, less than a week earlier, shot and killed eight people at three spas in the Atlanta area of Georgia.
Despite the fact that I was aware those tragedies were not the first time mass shootings took place in the United States, I was particularly disturbed for some reason. I put myself in a temporary mental frenzy over the matter. I realized I was focusing my energy on what was wrong and who to blame. I was creating a story and meaning for what happened that was more disempowering than helpful.
Then a moment came in which I asked myself different questions geared toward finding solutions. Those changed questions transformed my experience. I felt a little lighter, uplifted, and hopeful. A story about the Dalai Lama that demonstrates how we direct our inner thoughts can work wonders in seemingly significant matters.
His Holiness was before a group of Western reporters when he was asked, “I notice that you have this countenance of joy even though your people in Tibet have gone through, and continue to go through, horrendous atrocities at the hands of the Chinese government. How is it that you can maintain such joy, and more importantly, why can't we in the West? We who have so much, are often unable to have the joy that you have?"
The Dalai Lama responded by saying, “Wrong Mantra!" He suggested to the reporter that what you focus on and allow to pass through your awareness regularly is the negativity that you are experiencing in the world. As a result, you say to yourself: “Life is hard. There is not enough to go around. There is not enough love or not enough jobs. It’s impossible. It’s incurable. It can’t be done!” He let the reporter know that what you give your attention to, think, and speak about is a "wrong mantra."
The Dalai Lama was serving as a reminder that we want to lift our attention and awareness so that what we are constantly saying to ourselves is the truth of our being. Divine solutions, as well as the power and the presence of God, are everywhere. And therefore, it must be where we are. We want to practice the Dalai Lama's way of being with such conviction, that we plant a seed in our subjective or subconscious mind, and it begins to grow. We then find that we no longer react to circumstances or situations but respond from a deep eternal place within us.
When we respond from that place, we will look back to an experience that was not to our liking and realize we acted differently. Instead of being totally upset or blaming or accusatory, we discover something else has taken over. We've moved into prayer or meditation or got an insight that helped us respond in a higher way. Such is the power of taking control of where our attention goes.
Peace and Blessings,