Focus Part 1

Success in anything has a lot to do with focusing the mind on the task at hand. In fact, it has more to do with focusing the mind than in the actual physical activity.

Developing the voice, whether for singing or for any other purpose, does take focus. But what is focus, anyway? What I have been taught since childhood is that focus is holding one thought to the seclusion of others. And believe me, I’ve tried. It’s just not possible. That’s not the way the mind works. Try it for yourself right now. Try to tell your mind to shut up. Chances are, the more you try to shut it up, the noisier it becomes. That’s just how the mind works. It likes to contradict. It doesn’t like to take orders from anyone, including itself. And that reflects in our behaviour as human beings.

Focusing the mind is not about ordering the mind or forcing it to somehow zero in on the subject that you want it to. That’s a futile exercise that will lead you nowhere. Instead, it’s about letting go of other stuff that is irrelevant to your goals as much as you can until there is as little as possible left to distract the mind.

Let me give you an example of how this works against us. Let’s go to the subject of money. Let’s say you want more money, and you’re trying to figure out how to get it. Have you ever come across people who complain about not having money, but when presented with an opportunity to make more money, they come up with tons of reasons why it can’t be done, instead of going for it and at least making gradual progress? Maybe you’ve been one of those people, which is ok, because I’ve been there before myself. The reason I chose money is because it is such an emotionally charged topic and will serve as a better example.

This is what goes on in Mr No Money’s mind:

1)    First, there’s the thought of making more money. This in itself is very powerful, and if left alone, would most probably manifest into the thinker’s awareness sooner or later.

2)    Second, there’s the concept that not having enough money is not a socially comfortable place to be in. The peer pressure effect, as it is called. We want not only financial success, but the social status that comes with it. This interferes with the first thought.

3)    Third, there’s the conflict between the first and second thought. It goes like this: “Some of my friends have more money than me. This is bad for my self-image. I have to make it look ok while I get the money.” This is where more energy is wasted on trying to explain the reasons why they don’t have enough money; energy that could be spent equally effectively in actually getting the money.

4)    People who do step 3 long enough will find that it’s easier to explain away the problem rather that to actually solve it. This is, of course, an illusion that their experiencing because staying in a state of lack is never easy. They develop a sense of lacking control in their lives because even though they have all kinds of intelligent reasons why they can’t get money, they still desire the freedom, options, and lifestyle money can provide. They soon turn to talking about politics, the economy, etc, so that they can keep pointing to why they’re still not getting ahead.

And it goes on and on in a vicious cycle. Again, if this scenario describes you, don’t worry. Better to know where you are so that you can move forward. So the question is, how do we get out of it?

Short answer: go back to step 1. Ridiculously simple, huh? But if you look at the progress of the problem, that’s the only way. People have achieved this in different ways. Some do it backwards, bit by bit. They start from step 4 or step 10,000, whatever step they’re in, and steadily let go of the interfering thoughts, until they can get the money thought stronger in there and it overshadows the other inferences.

These people might take on a part-time job, or business, just to prove to themselves that they can make more money, then graduate to building businesses, or climbing the corporate ladder.

Other people go straight to step 1. They hold the money thought in their minds and when the interfering thoughts come in, they would either release the thoughts altogether or they would intensify the money thoughts so much that it would drown out the other thoughts.

People in this category might have been pushed to the edge. They’ve lost their jobs in an economic meltdown and have huge commitments to maintain. At this point, it’s do or die for them. Some do, and – as you’ve read in the newspapers from time to time – some die.

Or they might have put themselves in the situation on purpose. These are people to “took the leap of faith”. They have comfortable jobs and lifestyles, but have become so sick of not getting what they want, that they just go in, all or nothing. You’ve often heard of this people, among them is Bill Gates. They quit jobs that other people would die to get, and they end up being more successful in the end.

When you go to the bookstore and buy books about success, a lot of these stories come out. What they don’t tell you is what goes on behind the scenes and what processes take place in the mind. So buy a book only when you’ve decided which course you want to take, because both work. And buy the book based on the decisions you’ve made, and whether the thoughts stopping you are control, self-image, or whatever they’re rooted in.

This same thing is applied to singing, and being a good musician in general. We’ll get to that in part 2.


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