GNL number 105

a report of doings at meeting #105, Sunday, April 10, 2016 

including liturgical items, major themes, and other odds and ends


The first rule of focus is “Wherever you are, be there.”



To be great, be whole;

Exclude nothing, exaggerate nothing that is you.

Be whole in everything. Put all you are

Into the smallest thing you do.

The whole moon gleams in every pool,

It rides so high.

~~~poet Fernando Pessoa



 Gail opened the conversation today on FOCUS. We were at Vijaya’s apartment, which is so colorfully beautiful that we should have had trouble focusing on our topic, But no surprise, we had lots to say about it, beginning with Gail, who was the first of three who were moved to do some research on word meanings/origins. Her research showed many and varied meanings, and she found especially interesting the one in terms of science, eg.,about how focus works in light, with waves or rays meeting on reflection or refraction.

Ann had searched word meanings too, particularly in terms of art; and how the viewer’s attention is directed to the key place that’s the focal point or message of the piece. She also read several quotes and then a nice crop of her own 6-wordies, and poem about the senses. Later, she was one of several commenting on multitasking, eg., how we have had a tradition in this country for it, especially among women. See AFTERWORDS for her notes and quotes.

Sue also brought the fruits of her research, eg., the origin of the word focus as related to ‘hearth”, and many quotes. And she described her own weekly immersion in the Guantanamo report to the Peacemaker listserv she’s been doing for some time, which takes her complete focus for hours,and leaves her quite spent. And later, about multitasking, noted that some things are more doable together than others, like ironing to music or the radio. See AW for her notes and quotes.

Nancy N spoke of her own difficulty focusing and tendency to flit from one thing to a next. As someone who’s used a non-automatic camera for years, she also thought of that technical focusing as well as composing pictures, And as one who loves film (and has taught a film class), she recalled a favorite movie, Citizen Kane, which has a scene shot in an innovative way with fine focus in back- as well as fore-ground, key for conveyance of the message.

Louise gave us an update on last month’s report of her sudden worse hearing and dizziness. She said that two different specialists she saw did not get to the bottom of this, so she’d done some focusing on it herself, and recently an old friend she told about it, who’s a dr. too, truly heard, focused on the issue, investigated, and found that what she has is something called Meniere’s Disease, a problem of the inner ear, often developed by people with history of many childhood ear infections, like she had had. So she’s grateful for this help.

Vijaya spoke of finding meditation hard to do except with her mala beads, and described powerful visual experiences she’d had in closed-eye meditation. First, a vision of large ice sheets of cobalt blue that so fascinated her that she changed much of her décor to that color. Another image was of a deeply orange dot that grew into a sun, and a third was of an eye that also grew larger and became powerfully real. She later saw a picture in a store of a face with eye that matched her vision, and the owner gave her a copy. (The image was of Jesus.)

Cynthia spoke of focus in terms of her art work—how she needs to devote her whole, undivided attention to a project if she can, excluding other things and getting to the kernal that wants to appear. And it’s very satisfying when that moment of completion comes (and she’s very beat afterwards). She’s very busy now with an upcoming show and projects, as well as the background need of sorting that calls to her even more with her and Ron’s moving plans.

Nancy S was another who reported a habit for ‘flitting’ from one task to another, especially the last couple years. She’d like to do less of this (in her case, control-freaking) and more fully focused things, especially things that might be useful. She’s found writing helps her to focus, and clarify her thinking. She read quotes, including from a psychologist on the myths of multitasking. And she recalled examples of people who gave such full, whole-body focus to their work that it’s a thing of beauty. See AW for a note on these and quotes.

We decided to send today’s offering to one of our favorite, and most effective, organizations, Doctors Without Borders.


We focus so much on our differences, and that is creating, I think, a lot of chaos and negativity and bullying in the world. And I think it would be better if everybody focused on what we have in common—which is—we all want to be happy.

~~~Ellen DeGeneres

The earlier you learn that you should focus on what you have, and not obsess about what you don’t have, the happier you’ll be.

~~~Amy Poehler


Sunday, May 1, 2016 (1030) at Louise’s Sky Hill Farm. The topic is DREAMS (including Nightmares and Daydreams).


from Ann:

 Re: fo·cus


  1. the center of interest or activity.

     2. the state or quality of having or producing clear visual definition.


  1. (of a person or their eyes) adapt to the prevailing level of light and become able to see clearly.
  1. pay particular attention to.

Simplicity is ultimately a matter of focus.” ~~~Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are

You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus. ~~~Mark Twain

It is wise to direct your anger towards problems – not people; to focus your energies on answers – not excuses. ~~~William Arthur Ward

When words become unclear, I shall focus with photographs. When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence. ~~~Ansel Adams

One way to boost our willpower and focus is to manage our distractions instead of letting them manage us. ~~~Daniel Goleman


Origami Emotion , by Elizabeth Barrette

Hope is

folding paper cranes

even when your hands get cramped

and your eyes tired,

working past blisters and

paper cuts,

simply because something in you

insists on

opening its wings.


At its most basic, the focus or focal point in a painting is the thing that’s the most important or interesting. But for the artist it is much more than that. Focus is the element of composition which identifies the artist’s intent with their painting. It is both the seed of inspiration and the framework around which the artist has built their creative process.  In the artistic, creative process you can think of the focus as ‘the first line of a book’ — it’s the thing that grabs the viewers attention and keeps them ‘reading’ the picture. You need to build your composition around the focus, to make sure that the viewer’s eye is not otherwise distracted before the focus is achieved. For Western art this means you need to remember that the eye will tend to travel from left to right, and from top to bottom.”  So the focal point is in both the eye of the creator and the beholder. 

Focus, from Latin meant domestic hearth or fireplace.   Some etymologist proposes the word was derived from a reference, from more than one language, to something burnt or ashes. 

Fo·cal point  noun

the point at which rays or waves meet after reflection or refraction, or the point from which diverging rays or waves appear to proceed, the center of interest or activity.

Six Wordies


Old eyes and cataracts, can’t focus.

My dog focuses on food, period!

Tell me, what focuses your attention?

Who can focus in spring time.

A seed doesn’t focus, it does.

Daydreaming, focusing, we live in between.

Stop, look, and listen – be focussed.

A ripple starts somewhere, question where.

Unfocus all the senses

Hear the birds, wind, crying

See the green, round, distant

Taste the sweet, salt, water

Touch the rough, hot, breeze

Smell the snow, spring, basil.

Endless, limitless awareness.

From Sue:

FOCUS – etymology
focus (n.) 1640s, “point of convergence,” from Latin focus “hearth, fireplace” (also, figuratively, “home, family”), which is of unknown origin. Used in post-classical times for “fire” itself; taken by Kepler (1604) in a mathematical sense for “point of convergence,” perhaps on analogy of the burning point of a lens (the purely optical sense of the word may have existed before Kepler, but it is not recorded). Introduced into English 1650s by Hobbes. Sense transfer to “center of activity or energy” is first recorded 1796.

“I find hope in the darkest of days, and focus in the brightest. I do not judge the universe.” ~~~Dalai Lama

“Concentrate all your thoughts upon the work at hand. The sun’s rays do not burn until brought to a focus.” ~~~Alexander Graham Bell

“I don’t judge people.  It blurs out the center of my attention, my focus, myself.” ~~~ Toba Beta, Betelgeuse Incident: Insiden Bait Al-Jauza

“Focusing is about saying No.” ~~~ Steve Jobs

“To be everywhere is to be nowhere.” ~~~Seneca

“The successful man is the average man, focused.” ~~~Anonymous

“It is not enough to be busy; so are the ants. The question is: What are we busy about?”  ~~~Henry David Thoreau

“Focus is nothing more than getting your thoughts to fly in formation.” ~~~Che Garman

“Mankind is not a circle with a single center but an ellipse with two focal points of which facts are one and ideas the other.”  ~~~Victor Hugo

“Breathing is the vehicle that carries concentration.  It directs your mind to the object of your meditation.  We begin through the awareness of breathing, so that later when we need to contemplate, we will be able to direct the mind.” ~~~Thich Nhat Hanh, No Death, No Fear, Riverhead Books, 2002, p. 147

from Nancy:

When you write down your ideas, you automatically focus your full attention on them. Few if any of us can write one thought and think another at the same time. Thus a pencil and paper make excellent concentration tools. ~~~Michel LeBoeuf

When you do a thing, do it with the whole self. One thing at a time. Now I sit here and I eat. For me nothing exists in the world except this food, this table. I eat with the whole attention. So you must do—in everything. ~~~G. I. Gurdgieff

What’s happening today this moment, that’s what I care about, I say: what are you doing at this moment, Zorba? I’m working. Well, work well. What are you doing at this moment, Zorba? I’m kissing a woman. Well, kiss her well, Zorba! And forget all the rest while you’re doing it; there’s nothing else on earth, only you and her! Get on with it! ~~~Nikos Kazanzakis, in Zorba the Greek

and excerpted from an interview In Tricycle magazine, winter 2013, with Daniel Goleman, author of Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence:

Focus is the word I’m using to cover attention in all its aspects. Mindfulness is one variety of attention, one way to focus. Concentration is another. Sensory awareness is another. Daydreaming is another.

The myth of multitasking is that it saves time. The truth of multitasking—and there are some very good research studies on this at places like Stanford—is that people who multitask actually perform worse than people who stay concentrated on one thing and don’t get distracted……the other part of the myth is that you can actually focus on two different things at the same time. In the brain, what you’re actually doing is switching from one thing to another. And when you switch focus, it takes what’s called cognitive effort to get back to where your were before. Cognitive effort means to (a) to be mindful, to notice that your mind has wandered; (b) to disengage from where it’s gone; and (c) to put it back where it was……many minutes to get back to full focus on that task.

The capacity for attention is like a mental muscle, and it’s getting flabbier and flabbier in most of us. We have more distractions than ever…..So the fundamental tension is between having attention guided by the world around us rather at random, and having attention within our control, which is what all meditation training helps us do.

And one further note:

One of the earliest examples of especially full focus I can remember seeing was many years ago watching the NY Mets with my mom, and Keith Hernandez at first base, whose soft-handed fielding was so smooth and of one-piece that it was a work of art. Much later, something similar seemed true of Gail’s Clifford, in the way he used the scythe, or pruned the apple trees. He, and Keith H, seemed to have so totally inhabited these actions that they were also in sync with nature. A beautiful thing, a gift to the world. I’d like to live that way, that intimately, with the rest of nature.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: