Focus

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Focus

Postby michal » Tue Apr 26, 2005 2:24 pm

I'm having incredible difficulty to focus on a single thought and watch it. My thoughts are so random and rapid, it's like I have a mental highway in my head. When I DO manage to focus on a thought, I often experience another thought or more flying by, thus breaking that concentration and pulling me into that highway.

My mind simply won't shut up. I constantly hear dozens of voices, all babbling at the same time, and making absolutely no sense - a pure incoherence. When I just observe that process, I often find myself thinking "Oh just shut up already!" Never really works.

Maybe all I need to do is just observe that highway, without attempting at disassembling it and focusing on each thought seperately?

Could it be that that chaos is nothing but an illusion of the mind?

How do I deal with this?

The only true times I've managed to literally silence my mind is by visualization. It often happened in bed, when I couldn't fall asleep because my mind was so loud. The visualization is as follows: I close my eyes, and imagine all the mental noise as a square filled with TV noise that's covering my vision. Gradually, I imagine that square shrinking until it becomes a tiny dot that eventually disappears. I have to repeat that process several times, because that tiny dot pops backs into that huge square of noise, like a little stubborn child. When I DO manage to make it a dot, and have that dot disappear, my thoughts disappear, all I see and hear is black silence. Usually when I reach that point, I fall immediately asleep, because I feel so calm, that I can't keep awake anymore.

I also experience no-mind in meditation, when there's nothing but my breathing to concentrate on. But meditation is quite difficult to succeed at, and I don't do that very often. :?

Maybe I really do need to just observe that mental highway.

I'd appreciate comments.
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Postby summer » Wed Apr 27, 2005 4:47 am

Hi Michal,
Yes, our mind is definately a wild card, huh? :lol:
Like a wild horse, it races here, there and everywhere It sounds like you have all of the tools that I have, so I certainly don't have much helpful advice.
Just being aware of all the mental noise, and stepping back a little, seems to be very helpful. It may not mean that the mind is instantly still and quiet, but we are taking baby steps in disidentifying with all of our thoughts, and reconnecting with our essential awareness again.
When I am able to do this, I notice that my body relaxes a little, and the mind seems a little quieter.
I feel my breathing again, and hear the sounds around me.

Lots of patience with ourselves, and lots of love :)
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Postby erict » Wed Apr 27, 2005 5:14 am

Does anyone else have the experience of constantly hearing dozens of voices simultaneously? ... or anything like that?
"Be sincere; don't ask questions out of mere interest. Ask dangerous questions—the ones whose answers could change your life."
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Postby a_friend » Wed Apr 27, 2005 8:21 am

eric,
I definitely do. For example, sometimes my head will be quickly cyclying through three different songs and a problem at work and a problem at home and my immediate surroundings all at the same time. Not sure what that says about me, but it is what it is :) When I step back a bit from all this stuff, sometimes it actually "sounds" like different mini-me's all talking to me at the same time, all fighting for my attention. And when I step back a bit farther, it all just whirs by just like the freeway michal was talking about. Anyway, the more regularly I meditate, the less noise I find throughout the day usually. And so when I start to hear too many voices, I use it as a cue to chill out a bit and make some extra space in my day.

Oh and michal, I wouldn't put too much effort into focusing on a single thought. By trying less, you might find the exercise a little easier. And besides that, while the ability to focus your attention on a single thought is helpful and beneficial, it will only take you so far. My bet is on acceptance :)

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Postby summer » Wed Apr 27, 2005 5:32 pm

And besides that, while the ability to focus your attention on a single thought is helpful and beneficial, it will only take you so far. My bet is on acceptance


I will second that motion. My mind seems to only hear once voice at a time, and believe me, that is not the solution. It is quite b-o-r-i-n-g to keep hearing it repeat the same arguments over and over. Sheesh.
Have others noticed how much their minds like to argue? And imagine conversations with others that will help them be understood?
I am beginning to see that this need to understand isn't as benign as it may appear at first sight. Whether it is the need to understand life, the galaxy, or another person.
The underlying motive seems to be a need to control. A need to be right.
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Postby heidi » Wed Apr 27, 2005 6:20 pm

Being a super dualistic, no make that septistic, multitasking gemini reniassance person, I find that acting on thought actually makes thoughts productive. So, I often will "judge" a thought, ha ha, as nothing but judgement and absolutely useless to anyone, but then if I, say, see litter, instead of judging the litterer, I pick it up, or if I have an idea for creating a painting or something or even fixing a faucet, I jump into action - and there's stillness in that creative process. I think we can all be a lot happier if we realize what thoughts are worth acting upon and what's just blather.

I'm going to go smoke an organic cigarette and punish myself over it and then have an internal agreement of acceptance :twisted:
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Postby a_friend » Wed Apr 27, 2005 6:30 pm

HAHAHA! Freakin hilarious, heidi!!! I love it, I love it.
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Postby kiki » Thu Apr 28, 2005 12:08 am

'Maybe all I need to do is just observe that highway, without attempting at disassembling it and focusing on each thought seperately?'

Yes. You, the real you is the witness itself. By witnessing what is happening within the mind and also in 'the world' the spaciousness of You becomes more apparent. At some point the realization will hit you that events, thoughts, emotions, are unfolding and 'You' are silently watching it all. There is no need to disassemble anything whatsoever, focus on each thought separately, and so forth. Simply notice what is happening without judgment, attachment, or resistance.

'Could it be that that chaos is nothing but an illusion of the mind?'

That chaos is mind itself. Mind is noise - that which notices the noise is awareness/You, and that is pure silence/stillness. To put belief in the noise is to remain identified with the noise machine (mind). To awaken is to disidentify with the mind/ego, to see that it is not real but only a temporary arising within the eternal stillness of awareness/You.

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stillness

Postby IamOM » Sat Apr 30, 2005 8:54 am

All good advise, however it is also good to practice focusing as well.
Where nearly every meditator gets this wrong is that they try to do it for too long to begin with.
If you really, sincerely want to develop this ability you need to practice every day to counter act the habit of the mind just running itself constantly.
You should start by choosing one object that is very easy for you to focus on. Something that brings your mind peace.
I like to think of a great being or and image of a holy object. Then just try to focus on that for about one minute. You can count your breath without trying to control it for say five rounds. When you can do this perfectly extend the time to two minutes or 10 rounds of breathing.
This is a rare and very helpful practice. But you need to do it every day. preferably 3 or more times.
Without a thought you know.
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Postby Clare » Sat Apr 30, 2005 11:03 am

Hi Michal,

When I first started this I, like you, also became overwhelmed with the amount of voices in my head. I also misunderstood the teaching originally; I too thought it meant that we are meant to TRY to stop ourselves thinking! - a near impossible task straight off the bat since our thought patterns are ingrained over our whole lifetime. But when I just observed my voices and stopped trying to silence them, and just let them Be with me as the watcher - or listener, I began to define each voice. Then I realised that in fact there wasn't dozens of voices; they just talked a lot in different ways :) In fact, there were just three voices. Youj may find more, But I found it helped to give them titles.

The constant voice was my 'Blathering' voice that Heidi talks about. It mainly talks garbage and it's primary mission seems to be to distract me from my essence. Thing is, once you hear this voice and just listen to it instead of letting it take you off centre and make you feel stuff, it suddenly becomes a lot quieter. It's like a kid trying to get attention who will just scream louder if you react angrily or frustrated to it, as it is getting it's own way. But, if you just say, "Okay, have your temper tantrum or show off, and come back to me when you calm down and we'll do something nice," the kid realises that it gets no reaction from it's behaviour, so stops doing it so much.

One of the things I learned also is that sometimes even with the best of intentions, like any good parent, my kid is going to act up and I'll get drawn in and lose my centre. It's important to just let that BE too in those times. I'm beginning to understand also that sometimes my mind just needs to rant, and I've just got to let it and also have sympathy for it - Like a kid with teething trouble of something.

The second voice is the voice I call my Innovator. This voice is the voice I think Heidi is talking about that you should act on without judgement. It's the voice that suggests practical things and comes up with ideas. Recently (here's a sideline tip for anyone interested) it suggested that one way to stay focussed on what I was achieving was to keep an activity diary. Instead of the lists I constantly write for myself and never accomplish (staying in the future, and failing to get there takes me out of the now an awful lot)try keeping a dairy task to task of what I am DOING. At the end of this post, for instace, I will write "wrote post on ET forum" :) . This way, instead of planning things for the future that don't feel right in the moment, I am instead keeping myself focussed on what I am doing NOW - and also keeping track of when I am not doing NOW :) I've doubled my productivity with this simple shift! I am CONSCIOUS of what I am doing all the time :) That's the innovator voice working at it's best. It's an ally and one that should be observed and acted on, as Heidi High says, without judgement.

The third voice in my head is what I call my Wisdom voice, and this is the voice that comes from a higher place other than me down here. I regret to say this is my least frequently heard voice! And comically, I think this little subtle voice is the one that is presented in films and stuff as the big booming Voice of God. But, it's actually, the voice of Divine Self and it speaks to me in times of revelation and epiphany and what it says often changes everything.

Jeez, that got long. Hope it helps. I just thought I'd share how I honed my voices and also learned to make distinctions. I'd say, listen to em without judgement, define what they are and what purpose they serve; decide which ones to act upon and which ones to let do their kicking screaming running around thing until they see it doesnt work and come back to you.

Best wishes
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Postby michal » Sat Apr 30, 2005 11:17 pm

Thank you all for the advices, they are very helpful. :)
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