Mind focusing exercises
The proof that we are not the mind comes with training. Accept the idea in theory, and in time, as your control over your thoughts grows, you will know it as a fact. In reality, you, the real you, is the one mastering the mind. It is not the mind mastering itself.
Advice for Practicing the Concentration Exercises
Find a place where you can be alone and undisturbed. If you wish, you may sit crossed legged on the floor, but most people would find it more comfortable to sit on a chair. Sit with your spine erect.
Take a few calm deep breaths and then relax your body, by directing your attention to it, and relaxing each muscle, from head to toe.
Practice each of the exercises below for about 10 minutes, and after a few weeks of training, you may lengthen the time to 15 minutes.
It is important that you start with the first exercise, and practice only one at a time, until you are able to do it without getting distracted or forgetting it, and without thinking about anything else.
This might take days, weeks and even more.
proceed to the next one, only after you are convinced that you have practiced it correctly and with good concentration.
There is no timetable, since this could be frustrating. If, for example, I tell you to practice a certain exercise for a specific number of days, two things might happen. You might get disappointed, if you cannot get the desired concentration within the allotted time period. You might also proceed to the next exercise, without practicing correctly the previous one.
Mastering the exercises successfully can take days, weeks, months and sometimes even more.
Put your whole attention into the exercises, and do not think about anything else. Be careful not to fall asleep, daydream or think about other matters. The moment you find yourself thinking about something else, stop the exercise and start again. After you become proficient, lengthen the time, and if possible, include another session in the afternoon.
Do not attempt too much at the beginning, and don't try to perform them all at once. Go slowly, without overdoing them or tensing your brain.
If you find it too difficult, or thoughts distract you and make you think about other matters, don't despair. Everyone encounters difficulties along the way. If you persevere and never give up, in spite of difficulties and disturbances, success will crown your efforts. Remember, even those with powerful concentration had to exercise their minds.
In time, you will find out that you can concentrate anywhere, anytime, no matter where you are. You will be able to focus your mind, think and function under the most trying circumstances, while remaining calm, relaxed and collected. The reward is worth the effort a thousand fold.
Now, let's start with the exercises. For the full benefit, it is advisable that you practice each exercise for one additional week, after you are convinced that you are practicing it correctly and with full attention.
Take a book, any book, and count the words in any one paragraph. Then, count them again, to be sure that you have counted them correctly.
After a few times, do so with two paragraphs.
When this becomes easy, count the words of a whole page. Do the counting mentally and only with your eyes, without pointing your finger at each word.
Count backwards in your mind, from one hundred to one.
Count in your mind from one hundred to one, skipping each three numbers, that is 100, 97, 94, etc.
Choose an inspiring word or phrase, or just a simple sound, and repeat it silently in your mind for five minutes. When your mind can concentrate more easily, try to reach ten minutes of uninterrupted concentration.
Take a fruit, an apple, orange, banana or any other fruit, and hold it in your hands.
Examine the fruit from all its sides, while keeping your whole attention focused on it. Do not let yourself be carried away by irrelevant thoughts that might arise, or thoughts about the grocery where you bought the fruit, how and where it was grown, its nutritive value, etc. Stay calm, ignoring, and showing no interest in these thoughts.
Just look at the fruit, focus your attention on it without thinking about anything else, and examine its shape, smell, taste and the sensation it gives you when you touch it.
This is the same as exercise number 5, only that this time you visualize the fruit, instead of looking at it.
Start, by looking at the fruit and examining it for about 2 minutes, just as you did in exercise number 5. Then close your eyes, and try to see, smell, taste and touch the fruit in your imagination. Try to see a clear and well defined image. If the image becomes blurred, open your eyes, look at the fruit for a short while, and then close your eyes and continue the exercise.
You may imagine holding the fruit in your hands, as in the previous exercise, or imagine it standing on a table.
Take a small simple object such as a spoon, a fork, or a glass. Concentrate on one of these objects. Watch the object from all sides without any verbalization, that is, with no words in your mind. Just watch the object without thinking with words about it.
After becoming proficient with the above exercises, you may try this exercise.
Draw on a piece of paper a small triangle, square or a circle, about three inches in size, and paint it with any color you wish.
Put the paper with the drawing in front of you, and concentrate your whole attention on the shape you have drawn. For now, only the drawing exists for you, with no unrelated thoughts or distractions.
Keep your attention on the drawing, and avoid thinking about anything else. Be careful not to strain your eyes.
Start the same as number 8, but after looking at the figure for a moment, close your eyes and visualize the figure with the eyes closed. If you forget how the figure looks like, open your eyes for a few seconds, look at the figure, and then close your eyes and continue with the exercise.
The same as number 9, but now visualize with your eyes open.
Try for at least five minutes, to stay without thoughts. Do this exercise, only after you have practiced all the previous ones successfully. If you practiced the preceding exercises correctly, you will be able to impose silence on your thoughts, even if this is at first, just for a short while.
Constant practice is the secret of success. The more time you devote to the exercises the faster you progress, but you should do it gradually. Start with ten minutes, and as it becomes easier, and your ability to concentrate improves, increase the time.