…Contrary to popular belief can actually be harmful in a dosage too large. Each poem read puts a unique spin on the idea of focusing and what it does to the human mind. In “The Yellow Wallpaper”, by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, the narrator goes insane, due to her unrelenting focus on the wallpaper in her bedroom. “The Birthmark”, another poem, showing the negative aspects focusing can have on human relationships and interactions. The author, Nathaniel Hawthorn, tells a story of a man with only one focus- his new wife’s only imperfection. William Wordsworth presents a different perspective on focus. His poem, “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud” starts with his intense focus on his loneliness, but when he shifts his focus to happier things, good things come about. All three poems suggest that overthinking, or placing a heavy focus on only one thing, is a hazardous habit. On the other hand, Zen meditation represents an all-together different type of focus. While the poems suggest that over focusing is a negative thing, Zen meditation uses focusing as a practice to better train the mind.
In “The Yellow Wallpaper” the reader is able to read along as the narrator slowly looses her mind. Her immediate dislike of the wallpaper in her bedroom slowly escalates into an unnatural hatred, into an obsession. As readers, we are able to identify her obsessive focus as something that is unhealthy, but she is unable to see her own deterioration. Her unhealthy focus has taken control of her mind, and her life. In “The Birthmark”, a different type of obsessive focus is analyzed. A man who is so obsessed with his wife’s one imperfection. His focus is so stuck on the one negative aspect of his wife, that he tries to remove her birthmark himself. It is not until after her death that her husband can finally see past her one flaw. He finally sees that she had to have the birthmark, because without it she would be perfect, which is not allowed on earth. Finally his focus shifts to the positive aspects of his wife, but only after she has died. This is another negative aspect of focus presented. If one only focuses on a single aspect, they are blinded as to what else is in their life. William Wordsworth’s poem presents a sort of happy medium when it comes to focus. The speaker is initially very melancholy, as he can only focus on his loneliness. However, when he allows himself to be distracted by the beautiful flowers around him, his attitude changes completely. He finally notices all the beauty that is around him, rather than the negative things his mind has been stuck on.
This is a principal that relates to Zen Meditation. Rather than focusing intently on only the negative aspects in your life, Zen meditation teaches students a new approach to their focuses. By having them clear their minds, their focus is shifted from all the negative things in their life onto nothing. Although it sounds strange and counter intuitive, this practice is actually very beneficial. By focusing only on the moment in time that the person is in, all negative thoughts in the mind are cleared. We can learn to train our thoughts, and block out any negative or arbitrary thoughts that come into our minds. Many followers swear by this practice. Sometimes, the lack of focus we’ve been trained to avoid and get medicated for is beneficial.