The Four Gates of Advent: No.4 – The Gate of Focus

Sometimes in the day, we need to step away from our current mind set in order to find fresh possibilities. We are locked into a negative sense of things that is taking us nowhere, creating nothing.

On difficult days we may need to do this more than once. So we push at a gate which leads off our beaten track, which is leaving us beat, to a different path; and our day feels different.

One such gate is the Gate of Focus, remembering the opposite of focus is distraction.

No generation of human beings has been so vulnerable to the debilitating titillation of distraction.

‘I have measured out my life with coffee spoons’ writes TS Eliot in his poem, ‘The Love song of J.Alfred Prufrock.

But perhaps now we measure our life in ‘clicks’…and listless minutes passed in scrolling social media sites.

Yesterday’s scroll (already forgotten) becomes today’s scroll (forgotten as I read) and then tomorrow’s scroll (waiting to be forgotten).

And where am I in this netherworld of disparate information? I feel myself disappearing; I am ceasing to exist.

I read of other people’s news, other people’s views and other people’s feuds – ‘so much info! Oh, and here’s another story!’ – and find myself distracted into personal extinction.

My remains, such as they are, are a flitting mind and vague unease.

The gate of focus, on the other hand, invites us onto a path of intentional action. We set aside ninety-nine things that crowd this moment and give our attention to the one thing necessary.

Focus is an act of will, like anchoring a boat in a storm; and is rooted in the gut from where all true action emerges.

On this path, our breathing deepens; we can feel it, reaching down inside us, creating different awareness. Now we’re earthed, stable; we’re thinking from our body.

Our flittery mind stills; fast mind becomes slow mind; instead of distraction, energy for action gathers, we will do this.

So, whether it’s cleaning the kitchen, sorting the finances, dealing with a difficult issue, speaking with the person we need to speak with, writing a blog, making that decision, putting in that boundary…we do it.

Once through the gate of focus, we let go of aimless multiplicity – many things adding up to no thing – and simply get things done.

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