The Importance of a Focal Point
by Tulku Thondup Rinpoche

Amid our difficulties and struggles, it can be so helpful to have a focal point. We can choose any positive mental image or experience to focus on. I encourage people to think about a peak experience and bring back the feeling from it.

One example from my own life is the spiritual experience I had on a visit to a great teacher. We may find that an obviously inspiring memory springs to mind, or else we could choose from many possibilities, like a wonderful experience in the mountains or at the seashore. Even if we feel so downcast that nothing seems inspiring, we can still find some focal point to help us. Viktor Frankl, the therapist who went through the hell of Auschwitz, was able to find inspiration in the thought of being ‘‘worthy of suffering.’’

A focal point can be like a trusted friend to whom you can turn to whether you are happy or sad. If your mood is dark or even bleak, take some time, even if it is only for a few minutes, for contemplation. Recall the image or experience, as you breathe in a relaxed way. The most important thing is the warm, open, positive feelings that come back. You can apply these feelings to the darkness of sadness, dissolving the negativity like a snowflake in water.

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