“All that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think we become.” - Buddha
Did you ever experience to try to focus on something and another thought to come over and over into your mind disturbing your concentration? Have you ever had a situation where you heard a melody (even for only a few seconds) and then for hours or even days that melody is singing in your head by itself? Did you ever try to remember something and you couldn’t and after you drop it the memory came to you vividly? Have you noticed that in some circumstances you are able to concentrate for hours in an exemplary way (like when you are reading something very interesting, you don’t even hear people calling you very loudly) and other times for other activities (that you are not much interested for) you need a huge effort for concentration.
All the aspects that we have described above are happening under the direct control of mind. By analyzing these situations one might think that mind is not controlled by the one that owns it. It seems strange like the mind has its own life, out of our will power and control. It seems that we have a huge mental capacity on one hand and on the other hand we don’t really control that potential. Then the questions here arises: who is controlling our mind? what happens with our mind when we don’t use it?
The answer to the first question is that nobody and everybody controls it at the same time. Our mind is like a very advanced computer that has a lot of pre-installed programs and routines, and is running them under the impulses that are coming from the “outside world”. In “outside world” we include everything that is that is happening outside our mind. This also includes perceptions that come from inside, like feelings, emotions & inner perceptions of all kinds that are usually mixed with what is coming from outside. For this reason the mind reacts to many stimuli that are coming to it in an automatic way, which is out of our conscious control, for example when we get angry we become conscious of that only when we are already deeply in that state, actually that state is a result of some settings that mind has beforehand, in the subconscious area in relation to certain perceptions to which we react.
The state when we become aware is the final result of a lot of combinations and “superimpositions”, and was created without being aware at all. We are “served” only with the conclusion, without being given the choice. The state is already there and we were not participating in its formation. In fact we are not even aware that we could have a choice. We think that if we get angry that does not leave us any choice. “It comes from outside and I can’t help it,” we usually say. In our sleep-walking existence, the choice is almost inexistent because in order to have a choice the first condition is to wake up.
The answer to the second question is even simpler. When we don’t use our own potential then we are used by it. We become automatic machines that are reacting according to predefined schemes. Of the unitary flow of universal energy – information that comes to our mind we use only a very small part, the rest becoming just “noise”, unconscious activity that is using most of the power that is given to us without being in control. When we are “intensively” thinking about a certain object for example, hundreds and in some cases thousands of “parallel” processes are taking place in our mind at the same time. What looks like a “dense” and continuous process of thinking is in reality as full of holes as a fishing net. The flow of mental energy is divided between many “parasite” processes that our main conscious activity has to share. As a result the conscious mental processes are often almost “suffocated” by the intensive activity of the subconscious mind. The process of focusing the mind is in fact gathering the forces in the same direction as the one we consciously choose. In this way the power of mental concentration is very much increased and the “density” of our attention focused toward the object of our concentration is much better.
REDISCOVERING THE WHEEL
- Meditation is the action of going towards the middle, towards the Supreme Center of the (human) being.
- When the mind flows through the object of meditation in an uninterrupted flow, the meditation is attained.
- Meditation is the royal path that leads to perfection, to spiritual Liberation.
- The mysterious ladder form Earth to Heaven, from untruth to truth, from darkness to light, from pain to joy, from worry to peace, from ignorance to knowledge, from death to eternal life. Meditation leads us towards knowing the Self, eternal peace and supreme happiness (joy).
- Concentration can be defined as “to control the mind”. The nature of the mind is like the nature of the wind. The nature of mind is motion. When the air is still the wind doesn’t exist and the air is invisible. But when the air is moving the effects are visible. In the same way, the mind is invisible if completely still but when in motion we can see the effects of this motion. In this way we erroneously identify the mind with its movement. So the mental substance that remains after the mental phenomena are stopped has its manifestation as mind.
- Once the thoughts are stopped, the mind “disappears” and there is the non-mind state, a state characterized by the highest degree of spiritual creativity and intuition. This is the state of meditation!
- When concentration is maintained for a long enough time, then meditation appears in a natural way as day follows after night. Meditation is not a practice in itself, it is a result of practice. When the practice is successful, it is a state.
In order to better understand the importance of mind and understanding its functions, there is a classic example in the ancient texts that gives the dimension of the power of the mind. Just imagine a person enters a half dark room and misinterprets the rope on floor as a snake and get scared. The body can react violently and one might even have a heart attack, but in reality the snake does not exist. Where was the snake? The snake was in the mind. Thinking deeply about this example, one can see that the mind has the power to create reality. Considering it to be perfectly “objective”, and being so convinced about its “objectivity” one can even react strongly to it. One can think the example as a rare situation, but such examples can be seen in every moment of our existence because the same mechanism that superimposes the image of the snake on the image of the rope make us superimpose our desires and over an objective reasoning, and this influences the result.
In fact many such situations that take place nowadays with us are the proportional combinations between the objective experience and mental projection, the problem arises when we never know about the fact. There are a lot of other experiences that are more “subtle” and that are not the result of the activity of our senses, but are in accurate perceptions.
Often when one tries to find the answer to questions like: “Do I love this person?” and in a strange way the answer seems to be very difficult .We try to think a little bit we will not be able to get a clear answer and more we think, more the answer is unclear. This phenomenon happens because we are confronted with the same superimposition of mental patterns over some objective perceptions of our emotions.
Usually we try to escape such situation by choosing to live at the surface of things, On the other hand, if the mind does not interferes we will surely know what we love and what we like, what we don’t love and what we don’t like, what is beautiful & what is ugly, what is right and what is wrong. All these answers are instantaneously known in our being and only has to adopt accurate perception.
The mind that is “playing” with the tuning button is almost always imposing mental activity over objective perceptions and experiences.
10 Simple Exercises for Mental Concentration
1. Sit in a comfortable position (on a chair for example), keeping the back and shoulders straight, with the head up so the spinal column is vertical. It is recommended to face the Magnetic North Pole if possible. Choose a simple object that will become the “support” for your mental concentration. Place the object in front of you so that you can observe it easily. Close your eyes and prepare to follow these steps:
1. Relax rapidly and profoundly, from the feet upwards. The relaxation takes every part of the body in a gradual process.
2. Observe your respiration and deepen the relaxation until it becomes calm and quiet.
3. Focus your attention inwards, withdrawing the senses from any exterior stimuli that might distract you. Start by isolating the mind from any thought that may appear.
4. Observe “from outside” any thought that might appear and observe how the thought observed long enough dissolves into the mental background. Focus the mind upon the chosen object.
6. Empty your mind from all thoughts, then bring the chosen object into the field of attention, without allowing the mind to jump to another object or thought. If this happens, bring it back with calmness and patience.
7. Maintain the attention on the object chosen for concentration. It is advisable not to force it or to be tense. Be calm, quiet and focused.
8. Focus attentively on the object of concentration: approach it with amazement and the curiosity of a child, as if you did not know a thing about it. This approach should not be rational or intellectual, but rather you should get to the essence through feeling and intuition.
9. Explore the object in a state of creative silence, without any goal, only waiting for impressions. Then only you and the object will exist:
10. Get into a state of continuous euphoric expectation, accompanied with a high degree of perception. Allow your being to be absorbed in and by the object.
The mental potential is ours by Divine right and the fact that we do not use it fully is just one's choice. For this reason we have to start to study the functioning of our own mind and to gradually take conscious control of its functioning.
Our consumer society is very hard to take this step. When it looks to be against the general current Some say here that the problem for them is that they are too much in control and have to relax. The people who feel tensed and obsessed about control is just that they are controlled by their tendencies that they cannot stop. In such cases, stress of all kinds are mistaken for control. A person full of stress are not “too much in control” but is just dominated (controlled) by stress.
A good control over the mental processes means that if we choose to be happy in a moment or a situation when we are usually sad, then we can be happy. One needs inspiration to create art, one can tune at will with the mental vibrations that are characteristic to that state of artistic inspiration and we can create like a genius. The control over the mind doesn’t have anything to do with the efforts.
The best answer that is recommended is meditation! By understanding meditation we can gain a very practical understanding of the intimate functioning of mind.
Not everybody who stays with eyes closed and in a special meditation posture is meditating. Until the conditions inside are fulfilled. Then we can say that we practice mental concentration.
The human being is an analogical radio that can tune by resonance to different energies – vibrations. The tuning knob for us is attention. The things that catch our attention are in fact the aspects that we immediately tune into. Usually this process is automatic. For this reason the control of the attention is essential in the practice of concentration.
By the constant practice of mental concentration, one is able to control all states that are nothing else but different resonances. We are able to effortlessly rephrase our destiny, to take our life in our own hands. This is one of the big rewards that we get by practicing mental concentration. At beginning we try to obtain control over some states, but by modifying the predominant states in the everyday life we can modify our destiny.
With a focused mind, all the resonance phenomena can be maintained for a very long time, producing effects that are far from the usual states of daily life. The so called paranormal powers are nothing else, but expressions of the ability to keep the mind under control and to focus it on specific resonances for much more than a normal person, thus generating the exceptional energies that are responsible for the “paranormal” phenomena.
The difference between a very vivid and intensive state is the intensity and continuity of our concentration upon that state. If we want to have a very intensive state of happiness all we have to do is to focus continuously upon that state.
The practice of concentration has to be built on a strong feeling that we love what we are doing. If the exercises are done in a flat and boring way, without “putting heart” into them, the results will not be fruit ful.
The daily practice of mental concentration is an important help. The positive habit of practicing concentration and to aim for meditation every day is an amazingly efficient tool in order to create the necessary calmness and detachment for a harmonious life in the middle of modern society.
Even if you only practice a little in one day, the constant practice is a very important aspect of the mental training, firstly because the nature of the mind is to change, and this constancy in practice is helping to regain control over the mind.
Do not try to define, to form opinions or to understand, only be permeable to that object, looking at it as if it were for the first time. This will open you towards the object itself and will create the state of mental receptivity in which intuition (or the supra-consciousness) is able to function. By following this process, we will soon notice that surrounding objects have many meanings and messages that you usually miss.
20 Special Effects of Meditation
1. Accelerates spiritual evolution.
2. Tends to slow down heart rhythm.
3. Improves rapidly the memory and intuition.
4. Harmoniously activates the creative imagination.
5. Rapidly and profoundly regenerates the personality.
6. Increases the capacity to control emotions and thoughts.
7. Establishes self-knowledge of the innate potential of each individual.
8. Helps to feel the texture of life as the gardener feels the petals of a bud opening.
9. Strengthens the mind and by revealing its potential, leads to growing self-confidence.
10. Creates changes not only in mental and emotional states but also in sensory perceptions.
11. Makes the amplification and inner directing of mental and psychological processes possible.
12. Makes one aware of the depth of consciousness, sub-consciousness and supra-consciousness.
13. Removes doubt, suspicion, psychological troubles, lack of spiritual energy, physical exhaustion.
14. Opens the gate of supra-consciousness; that of intuitive knowledge and countless paranormal powers.
15. Leads to a decrease of the metabolic coefficient, diminishing oxygen consumption and carbonic gas production.
16. Increases skin resistance up to 400%. Interior agitation, anxiety and stress control the level of skin resistance to electricity.
17. Individual becomes more open to ambience, more conscious of nature’s beauties and colors, of others’ happiness and sadness.
18. Gradually eliminates nervousness, shallowness, and lack of concentration, anxiety, depression, prejudice, psychosomatic diseases, and inferiority complexes.
19. Eliminates stress and simultaneously offers a state of calmness and harmony, both inside and outside us, which is reflected in improved relationships and communication.
20. Lessens the percentage of lactose in the blood which is determined by anxiety and stress; meditation does this almost 4 times faster than if the subject was resting calmly.
Psychologists who have used meditation in treating patients under clinical conditions demonstrate that for certain individuals, meditation reduces stress, anxieties, stress associated psycho-pathologies (insomnia, stammering, high blood pressure) and self-blaming. They also predict that meditation is useful for decreasing drug dependence, increasing self identity perception, improving mood, facilitating the expression of emotions, and increasing activity and energy in general.
“Meditation essentially produces a physiological state of deep relaxation, along with a state of hyper-awareness. The metabolic coefficient decreases, as well as cardiac and respiratory rhythm. The model of physiological responses of meditation differs from sleep or hypnosis. The physiological state produced by meditation appears to be opposite to that produced by rage or fear. From a technical point of view, we can say that meditation determinates a hyper metabolic state.
Teacher coordinator of NathaYoga Center, Copenhagen, Denmark