Common steps and sub-activities
Concentration on a single object
This technique requires you to close your eyes and imagine an object – just one stationery object and keep it in your mind without change. By doing this the objective is to suppress any learning [suppression of learning] activity, so you have to focus your attention on the object and not try to think about it and what you know about it.
The technique has the advantage that it also works via sensory deprivation. Because you have imagined a single unchanging object, there is no change to the messages coming in from your senses and thus the senses are as deprived as if you stared at nothing.
As you become relaxed, hold your mental attention on something, anything, with your eyes closed. Here are some pointers about what to think about:
- Firstly, it is often better to choose some symbolic abstract object to imagine rather than try to conjure up a scene. By conjuring up something from Memory it will trigger associations and you will then start to use your Reasoning processes and Memory to explore those associations
- Second, choose a symbol that your mind identifies with and which attracts your attention and holds it there. You can see the reason for this, you want to be able to stare at this imaginary object for some time, so if it has no interest at all for you, you won’t be able to do it. Don’t make it too stimulating though, otherwise your mind will wander off
- Third, imagine the object to be totally stationary [but also see below]
- Fourth do not change your symbol, session after session always come back to the same one. Again, the reason should be obvious, if you keep on changing the symbol you are adding extra stimulation when what you are trying to do is still the mind
- Fifth concentrate your entire mental energy on the idea of the object looked at; and try not to – in any way – think about the object other than that it ‘is’. Don’t name it, don’t think about its colour or texture, or what it reminds you of. Just ‘look’ and keep on looking.
Once you can hold the borderland state indefinitely without falling asleep, you have passed the first stage. It is, however, a normal pattern to fall asleep many times in the process of this consciousness deepening. You will not be able to help yourself, but do not let this discourage you. It is not an overnight process. You will know you are successful when you become bored and expect something more to happen!
If attempts to remain at the borderland state make you nervous, this too is a normal reaction. The conscious mind seems to resent sharing the authority it has during wakefulness. If this occurs, break the relaxation, get up and walk around, exercise, and lie down again. If this does not relieve the nervousness, go to sleep and try another time. You are just not in the mood.
More pointers from someone who achieved success with the result.
Mental Radio – Upton Beall Sinclair
The first thing you have to do is to learn the trick of undivided attention, or concentration. By these terms I mean something quite different from what is ordinarily meant. One ‘concentrates’ on writing a chapter in a book, or on solving a problem in mathematics; but this is a complicated process of dividing one’s attention, giving it to one detail after another, judging, balancing, making decisions. The kind of concentration I mean is putting the attention on one object, or on one uncomplicated thought, such as joy, or peace and holding it there steadily. It isn’t thinking; it is inhibiting thought, except for one thought, or one object in thought.
You have to inhibit the impulse to think things about the object, to examine it, or appraise it, or to allow memory trains to attach themselves to it. The average person has never heard of such a form of concentration, and so has to learn how to do it. Simultaneously, he must learn how to relax, for strangely enough, a part of concentration is complete relaxation.
There seems to be a contradiction here, in the idea of simultaneous concentration and relaxation. I do not know whether this is due to a contradiction in the nature of the mind itself, or to our misunderstanding of its nature. Perhaps we each have several mental entities, or minds and one of these can sleep (be blankly unconscious) while another supervises the situation, maintaining the first one’s state of unconsciousness for a desired period, and then presenting to it some thought or picture agreed on in advance, thus restoring it to consciousness.
Anyway, it is possible to be unconscious and conscious at the same time! Almost everyone has had the experience of knowing, while asleep, that he is having a bad dream and must awaken himself from it. Certainly some conscious entity is watching the dream, and knowing it is a dream; and yet the sleeper is ‘unconscious’. Or perhaps there is no such thing as complete relaxation – until death.
All I can say is this; when I practise this art which I have learned, with my mind concentrated on one simple thing, it is a relaxation as restful, as seemingly complete as when I am in that state called normal sleep. The attention is not allowed to be on the sensations of the body, or on anything but the one thing it is deliberately concentrated on.
For iPad/iPhone users: tap letter twice to get list of items.