Slowing the mind down is essential to having a heightened sense of awareness / aliveness. The longer you have let your mind run without the intention of slowing it down â€“ the more likely it is to be running at a speed not conducive to awareness. Practice the art of extreme focus as method for pulling the emergency brake on an overactive mind.
WHEN THE WATER IS ALWAYS MUDDY – YOU CANNOT CONSTRAST IT WITH CLARITY
In the average personâ€™s life, the mind has one opportunity to slow down and recharge and that is through sleep. If a person were to maintain their focus on breath shortly after waking â€“ the residual effects of a quieter mind after sleep would persist. That means sleep is an aid for centeredness â€“ if you can just keep your mind fixed upon your breath and have a very clear intention to maintain centeredness. However if shortly after waking you muddy the water again with thoughts of all the things you must do â€“ a cloudy mind is what you grow used to. When a cloudy mind becomes the norm you cannot contrast it with the peace of a more placid awareness and therefore cannot experience peace directly, but only imagine it will come after some achievement. When this happens peace exists as a mental fantasy or concept instead of a real place you can visit now.
â€œIâ€™M NOT THE KIND OF PERSON THAT CAN SIT STILL VERY LONGâ€
All an overactive mind takes is a little effort to slow the mind down. Setup reminders throughout the day to focus on breath for one or two breaths and give yourself an opportunity in the morning or evening to close your eyes and simply breathe, focusing on your breath with no agenda. If your mind has been running at full speed prior to your intention to quiet it â€“ your mind will wander quite often, like a candle flickering in the wind.
â€œWHAT IF MY MIND WANDERS?â€
Even if your mind wanders for a few minutes â€“ it will eventually return to your intention. Thatâ€™s why itâ€™s very important you clarify your intention to focus.
WHAT IS EXTREME FOCUS?
Then notice what it feels like to half-intend something and then concentrate even more. It can be compared to half committing to pick up a heavy weight versus lifting it with all your might with so much energy that it goes sailing into the air. When you intend to quiet the mind donâ€™t just sit down and go through the motions. Imagine in your mind what it feels like to be intensely here now. Not just sitting down and saying â€œOkay Iâ€™m here now.â€ But putting all your heart and soul into one breath with such energy that you can only maintain the intensity for a few seconds before you get mentally tired. Then try to maintain this focus for even a few seconds more. The act of this extreme focus is like applying the brakes to an overactive mind. When youâ€™re speeding down the highway you canâ€™t just apply the brakes a little â€“ one good pull on the emergency brake can slow a heavy object with lots of momentum almost immediately. Extreme focus can be a useful tool in the beginning of your meditation.
â€œHOW WILL I KNOW IF I AM DOING IT RIGHT?â€
Here are few signs that will help you know that youâ€™re doing extreme focus right:
1) During intense spurts of concentration youâ€™ll feel the need to â€˜relaxâ€™ your mind from focusing so hard even after just a few seconds at a time.
2) You might actually feel energy causing chills up and down your body for the few seconds while initiating extreme focus.
3) After you finish even a short meditation youâ€™ll notice the brain has slowed down and your mental space seems much clearer.
DO EXTREME FOCUS NOW
Do a few minutes of extreme focus now (and post your questions or comments here.) Remember â€“ a great place to start is just with your breath. When you breathe in, donâ€™t just focus on breathing in but REALLY focus on breathing in with all your heart and soul. And donâ€™t just focus on breathing out, REALLY focus on breathing out. Maintain this intensity as long as you can â€“ which if youâ€™re just starting should only be for a few seconds. You should notice a major difference in the experience of wanting to focus and REALLY focusing with all your might. Itâ€™s the difference between bending down to pick up a weight, and REALLY bending down to pick up a weight with so much energy it flies over your head.