>> I have a question concerning the second exercise of Step One - Thought Discipline. As I understand it, one has to centre on one single train of thought, or one idea and exclude any other thoughts or ideas which may try to make an appearance. I have read a couple of message to the group from people doing this exercise and they have concentrated on visualisation, i.e. the person seems to have concentrated on an internal image for a length of time. My question is does it make any difference if I concentrate on an auditory idea? If I sub-vocalize a line from a poem over and over for example? I find this easier to do, as I am naturally an auditory person (my thought process mostly consists of internal dialogue as opposed to images). If I try to focus on an image I find that because I am not using the auditory part of my mind, I am almost always 'interrupted' by some sort of internal vocalized thought or idea. If I block this by using a vocalized thought as my focus point I make things a lot easier. I suppose I would like to know if there is any particular reason why visualization for this exercise should be more effective or more appropriate. <<
Actually, in this particular exercise, focusing upon an idea or train of thought is better than just focusing upon a visualization. This reveals the greater value of the one-pointedness *meditation*. Granted, this exercise does train your mental discipline (i.e., your ability to direct your mind), but it is also intended to reveal the benefit of one-pointedness meditation. This revelation arrives sooner if you choose an idea or train of thought as your focus and let visual images, sounds, aromas, etc., arise in response to your idea/train of thought.
>> Rawn, I would be interested in knowing if you agree with S´s suggestion that it is better not to repeat a line over and over to focus on. If it is a train of thoughts that is important, could I then for example, concentrate on working out what I am going to write for an essay or on planning a lesson (I teach some Spanish classes)... as long as I stay focused on that one idea, does it matter how broad it is? The reason I am asking this is because, after first reading the explanation for this exercise, I automatically assumed that it should be something limited, something repeated like a mantra for example, but maybe that is just because I have read so many other books which suggest this. <<
Repetition of a phrase is just as effective as visualizing an object when it comes to increasing your ability to direct and discipline your thoughts. Either will serve as the anchor around which you focus. However, as I mentioned previously, "thought discipline" equals "one-pointedness" and this is an important meditation technique. Part of one-pointedness involves prioritizing your thoughts and letting them wander just enough so that your point of focus begins to reveal more of itself, but at the same time, limiting them to only those thoughts that are relevant to your point of focus. If all you are doing is repeating a phrase, then your understanding is not particularly increased. Same with visualizing an image.
In his directions for this exercise, Bardon mentions *only* a thought, idea or train of thoughts. He does *not* suggest using an image or a mantra. In other words, your idea of "concentrate on working out what I am going to write for an essay or on planning a lesson", fits right in with what Bardon instructed.
My best to you,
:) Rawn Clark
16 Dec 2002