Focusing The Mind

Focusing The Mind

Focusing The Mind

The mercurial nature of the mind has always been a challenge for almost everyone. From the mighty Kings and warriors of ancient India to the novices on the path of Yoga, everyone struggles to keep the mind focused on something spiritual.

It is not that you cannot make the mind concentrate on something. On the contrary, you can easily keep it focused even involuntarily as long as the mind is fed that brings about sensual pleasure. So the challenge is to focus on something that does not seem pleasurable.

When we discussed why the mind is so restless, we learned two main reasons. First, the mind has been trained to stay distracted right from our childhood. Secondly, the mind has enough distractions around it. The distractions are in accumulated memories and physical activity around oneself.

If we can address these two factors, we can make the mind concentrate. However, these factors are not easy to manage, and that is why controlling the mind has always been a challenge for time immemorial.

The mind has been knowingly and unknowingly trained to stay distracted right from childhood. For example, when do we feel bored? Well, if the mind is not distracted, we complain of boredom. And then, we choose various activities or even consume alcohol or drugs to distract the mind. Therefore, we have been training the mind to stay distracted throughout the years, and now we find that it would not stay focused during meditation. We cannot reverse the effects of a life long training in a matter of days.

Only a rigorous and determined practice routine can inculcate the habit to keep the mind focused. There is no shortcut. We will be required to keep practicing to focus the mind. In the beginning, as an aide, you can visualize an object and focus your mind on it. Note that you will not be able to stay focused for more than a few seconds in the beginning! Even realizing that you cannot focus is a good start because now you know what to work upon!

As soon as you realize that your mind has drifted away, please bring it back to the point of focus and try to stay focused again. The more you practice bringing the mind back to the focus, the more it will stay focused. And be realistic with your expectations. You may not notice any change in the mercurial nature of the mind even after practicing for days or weeks, or months. To make your meditation practice effective, you need to begin with the Yamas and Niyamas of Yoga.

The second reason that distracts the mind easily is the fodder of impurities available to the mind! Yes, your mind can get distracted by thinking about all the good you might be doing in the world, but the negative thoughts will usurp the quietness of the mind more often. Anger, ill will towards others, or greed are factors that give the mind the hooks to latch on.

Since whatever wrong has been done in the past cannot be undone, there is no point in continuing to harbor feelings of revenge, hatred, or anger. But it is not easy to get rid of such feelings either. However, by doing good to others selflessly, the negative feelings would gradually subside, and the positivity will start to become evident. Doing good to others will create happiness, and by regular practice, the effects of the bad karma in the past will get subdued by that of the good karma that you do now. That will foster calmness and quietness in mind, letting it focus better.

The key is to practice regularly. The more, the better.


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