On the First Part of the Second Step One Mental Exercise
>> I'm working on the first thought discipline exercise. It's a bit overwhelming to me. I can disengage pretty well from my thoughts when I sit down to meditate with the thought control, but then when I jump back into the fray in my daily life, it seems that I just get overrun. Any attempt to make my thoughts run only along certain lines backfires and makes me even more unfocused. Force and tension seem to be my habitual ways of getting myself in line, but those only go so far. I keep hearing that the mind should be coaxed, not forced, and that focusing should ultimately be done without tension; but I don't have a clear sense of how to get there. Any tips? <<
Take the task incrementally. For example, begin with a commitment to focus yourself exclusively upon the task at hand for five minutes. Once you've mastered the ability for a five minute stretch, begin increasing the duration of your focus. Try this with a variety of activities throughout your daily routine. By approaching it in this way, you are not overwhelmed by the prospect because you are dealing with a manageable amount of time *at the outset*, instead of trying to immediately deal with the prospect of hours at a stretch. Eventually, you will find it an easy matter to focus your attention at will and for as long as you desire.
My best to you,
:) Rawn Clark
01 Apr 2005
>> I actually have the ability to concentrate intensely for long periods of time, but by using strong force or self-compulsion that I hardly feel until I bring my attention back to my body (and feel the tension and pain). I am guessing that this form of concentration isn't very healthy. :) <<
:) This exercise is not about "intense" concentration. A good example of the goal state is when you're focused upon doing something you enjoy. Such concentration is a natural by-product of your interest in what you're doing and requires no force. The key for you might be found in this factor of interest vs. resistance. If you are resistant to what you're doing then focusing your whole awareness upon it takes force. Perhaps checking in on your resistance level and disarming it will help.
>> I can be aware of myself having distracting thoughts while driving, but I'm not sure how to get those thoughts out of my mind except by force, which seems self-defeating. What am I missing? <<
This exercise is not about fighting against the distracting thoughts -- it's about focusing upon the intended thoughts and actions. In other words, each time you do find yourself wandering from your focus, gently bring your focus back to its intended target. This is far different than fighting against intruding thoughts and trying to suppress them.
>> Also, I'm curious, is there some reason you omitted mention of this exercise in A Bardon Companion? <<
I do discuss it and the second part of the exercise simultaneously (pages 42 thru 44) since the same instructions apply to both phases of the exercise.
My best to you,
:) Rawn Clark
02 Apr 2005