The word always reminds of that amazing moment in the eye doctor’s office when he adjusts the machine in front of my eyes and everything comes into focus. I’m extremely near-sighted, so the change from my unaided eyes to the corrective lenses is startling and almost profound. The world is transformed from an impressionistic blur into well-defined reality.
I’ve had similar moments of clarity in lessons. Perhaps you have too, maybe in lessons, workshops, masterclasses or concerts, those moments when you are sure that you really get it. You can see the path before you and you step on to it.
Then you get home. You start to practice with all the momentum from your lesson, but gradually the edges of the path seem to blur again. You can feel the fog descending, and you try to practice through it, but you are increasingly uncertain that you are doing the right things the right way.
Although focus can arrive in a single lightbulb moment, focus is truly more of an action, less something you have and more something you do. Focus is active, purposeful and results-oriented. Focus is directional; it is the ultimate cure for circular practice.
This is why you feel so much more focused when you are working with your teacher or learning at a workshop. A teacher or expert is clearing away the brush and fog from the path, pointing clearly to not only the path but to your destination.
When you focus the same way in your practice, you experience similar clarity. First, focus shines a spotlight on everything you do. You begin to notice what needs fixing, enabling yourself to direct your energy and take the steps necessary to fix it.
Then you realize the true power of focus. Your practice becomes intentional and concentrated on the results you want to achieve, not just the “lather-rinse-repeat” method of rote repetitive practice. Focus puts all your efforts into high gear.
I don’t know anyone who is always focused. There are too many easy distractions and unwanted intrusions on our time. I readily admit that focus can occasionally be a problem for me. But I can share with you 3 ways that I regain my focus to practice even when myriad other things clamor for my attention.
What are your favorite ways to focus?