“Everything that happens once can never happen again. But everything that happens twice will surely happen a third time.”
–Paulo Coelho The Alchemist
Practice does not make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect. However I like to focus on progress and not perfection. How do we make progress in the art of concentration and learn to focus like a laser beam. I’ve been fortunate enough to learn from many masters the different techniques to bring the monkey mind under control. What is the monkey mind? The monkey mind is what most of us deal with on a daily basis. We find thoughts arising that have no beneficial outcome and in many cases are detrimental. Any person that is honest with themselves in taking a look at the thoughts arising will agree that many are not going to bring about enlightening creations into the world. With this in mind what are some techniques one might practice
Breathing. Now most if not all have encountered a guru instructing the student to come into the now or the Yoga instructor directing the viewer to breathe. The reason this is cliché is because it is one of the most effective methods for learning to focus like a laser beam. A common method is to count to 5 while breathing in through the nose. Hold the breath for a count of 5 and then breath out for the same count. The beneficial results of learning how to do this are so numerous I don’t know where to begin – so I won’t – give it a try or not. I believe with practice you will enjoy some great benefits.
Tis better to conquer yourself than to win a thousand battles on the field. No one can take it from you, not angels nor demons, not heaven or hell. -Da Buddha
If you happen to give this a try, notice how the mind wanders. I need to do the laundry. I think I have to pee. I have to remember to put the garbage out. I cannot believe that car alarm is still going off. I wonder if I left the dog in the dryer. You will see how difficult it is to direct your mind only to breathing. We need to think about what we are thinking about, and if it’s not beneficial than we should learn how to redirect our mind. Existential detectives and redirectors. If we are not in control of our thoughts then this is a serious problem. Stress, envy, jealousy, health problems and depression stem from the inability to focus on what brings peace, love and joy. Thought alone is the source of all sadness, depression and also happiness and peace. This is heaven or hell- you get to decide. The world is completly neutral.
The quality of your life is truly derived from the thoughts you think, change your thoughts, change your life. And so changing your thoughts- just like rebooting a computer is a concious decison that requires one to focus like a laser beam. Who is the instrument, the music and whom is playing it?
To reiterate, consider taking 15 minutes first thing in the morning and the last thing at night to focus on your breathing. This helps train the mind. A undisciplined mind can accomplish nothing. A disciplined mind can accomplish anything.