Reigning in The Mind
When I sit down to meditate, my primary task is to reign in my mind. My thoughts are like satellites and space particles spinning around mother earth, each drawing my attention to their orbital paths. Like a yoyo in a “round the world” move, they are each held in their orbit by a kind of gravitational string of attraction sharing a common hub at the centre of me the experiencer. This energetic pattern appears to repeat itself in everything inside me and around me, down to the tiniest atom with its electrons spinning around its nucleus. Reigning in my mind back to its nucleus at the centre of my being is the aspect of meditation we call concentration- bringing our focus back to the centre.
The Point of It All
Concentration is something we use to help us perform tasks better. In meditation we are using concentration to try to let go of all thoughts, projections and projects. However the challenge here is that it is the nature of the mind to think, and since the mind wants to be the master it seeks to claim even the mastery of letting go of its natural tendency to think! Paradoxically, in meditation we are using the tool of concentration to let go of even the desire to accomplish successful concentration – no easy task! The attitude we cultivate in meditation is that there are no good or bad thoughts, no higher or lower experiences to be had. The practice is to let go of it all, even the accomplishment of the apparently simple technique of repeating the count of 10 breaths without distraction! This is not as simple as it seems! One discovers, sooner or later, that trying to harness the monkey mind to follow each breath attentively and make it to the next number, not alone the next set of ten breaths, without losing count is harder than it seems! Ironically its simplicity is what makes it so difficult. The mind likes complicated. It likes to create content in all that space between the inhalations and the counted exhalations. It requires our full attention to navigate that stream of consciousness without being swept away by the currents and whirlpools the mind creates. The reason why this apparently simple technique is so profoundly effective for both the beginner and the seasoned practitioner lies in the fact that regular practice sharpens the capacity of the mind to become aware of the more subtle distractions sneakily underlying its primary focus, and the layers of the mind’s mechanisms are infinite. For example, you might be able to complete the count of 10 breaths in succession but has your mind multitasked by inserting some other thoughts in the background? And here is the kicker: we are using the creator of our thoughts to try to let go of its own creations! We are not trying to get rid of thoughts nor to annihilate our mind. We are just using the power of our mind to re-mind itself of who it is, of who we are, at home base. We are not trying to jump off the merry-go-round but rather find our way back to its core, the generator and experiencer of the thoughts. One could say that the point of concentration in meditation is to shift our focus from being carried away by the peripheral projections of the mind and get back into the driver’s seat at the source of it all. Good and bad things and everything in between will always happen, but when we are rooted in our source at the centre of it all we will no longer be overwhelmed by our circumstances.