“What you focus on grows.” I imagine you’ve heard that many times before. It is a theory I thoroughly believe and expand upon in the “explore course” (their title for elective courses) I teach at the Open Classroom entitled Creative Explorations. In this class, I use a combination of movement, meditation and imagination to teach my students about how powerful their minds are.
fearThe other day, we were talking about how our imagination can run away with us. I asked them if they had ever been scared by a shadow in their bedroom at night, sure that it was a monster, only to discover it was a pile of clothes. They regaled me with tales of moving blobs and glowing eyes and certain life-threatening terror that ended up being explained away when they got out of fear and actually explored to uncover the truth.

I shared with them an experience I had once when I was a small child. One night, I was certain there was someone or something in my closet and it was making the clothes move. The longer I focused on this issue, the more frightened I became. I was convinced that, whatever it was, it was going to hurt me and so I lay still and frozen in my bed, watching the moving clothes. The more I watched the closet, the more my heart raced and the more difficult it became to breathe. My mind started creating all sorts of horrible images about what was going to happen to me if I didn’t do something about the creature in my closet.

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When I finally found a modicum of courage, I sprang from my bed only to discover, of course, that there was nothing there. I stood there staring into the darkness of my closet, but found nothing. Then, as I was standing there, up close and personal, I witnessed a reflection of light dance across the clothes. I took a step back further and waited. Indeed, when the cars on the road passed by our house, their lights cast reflections around my room and subtly across my clothes creating the illusion that my clothes were moving.

I can laugh about the experience now, but then the experience was not all that great. After sharing that experience with the kids, I pointed out that the more I focused on the monster in the closet, the bigger it got until I was certain I was facing my own imminent death.

When we spend our energy focusing on anything it will grow. One of the most powerful forces in the universe is the practice of gratitude. Imagine the power you have at your disposal if what you are focusing on is that for which you are grateful!

© Angie K. Millgate 2/7/10

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(This post was originally written on 2/7/10 and posted on a now-closed site)

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