When we start to exercise the mental muscles we start to make them fitter. So, there are two aspects that we are starting to wake up.
One is the ability to apply the mind, which we call initial application, which is the launching of your attention at whichever area of the body you want to know. The second quality we want to build is what we call sustained attention where you hold your attention in one place – you don’t wander around.
If you don’t apply the mind you will just drift around and your mind will not start to get fit. The reason we keep moving through the body every minute or so, is that it re-establishes that initial application. You have to reapply the mind so you can’t just drop off into a trance and not know what you are doing because you have to deliberately do it. By moving it launches your attention again (as you move from one finger to another), this initial application brings energy to the mind. Staying with your object (the finger in this case) without wavering is the sustained application, and this builds the concentration and mindfulness so the object becomes clearer. Now it won’t happen overnight. It’s something we are training – like when you go the gym you are training – so that the mind starts to feel less cloudy, brighter and sharper.
[groups_non_member group=”Registered”]To begin with it is best not to sit for too long but to do some very focused work, take a break and then to do it again. It is good to see how diligent or lazy you are. Can you spend 20 minutes at really working through the hands with real application? Or do you just sit there and drift?
[groups_member group=”Registered”]To begin with it is best not to sit for too long but to do some very focused work, take a break and then to do it again. It is good to see how diligent or lazy you are. Can you spend 20 minutes at really working through the hands with real application? Or do you just sit there and drift?
Don’t do this exercise lying down as the energy will not move freely through the spine, but rather sit comfortably either on a chair or on your cushion. When you sit make the intention that you are going to feel every fingertip, then every fingernail, all the bones and the flesh and muscle of the hands. Work in an ordered way as this stops your mind from being disorganised, random and impulsive. Working systematically and steadily is another quality of your mind which is really useful.
Now many people hold too much of their energy in their head which makes meditating in their body a real struggle – the brow chakra is too active – they are so busy thinking all the time that most of their world, most of their experience, is of their inner world and they are not very present. When we feel in the body we are using the heart base, but we are also using the heart and solar plexus chakras, and through continued repetition, gradually we rebalance the energy out of the head and re-distributes it through the central channel more evenly and it becomes easier.
Some of you will find it easier to focus on a small bit of your body, like a fingertip, whilst others of you may find it easier to focus on both their arms and legs together. Think of it as playing with the aperture on the lens of a camera as you open and close your field of awareness. You need to practice with these different settings, you won’t be able to know both knees at the same time with the field of awareness that is narrow and focused for your fingertip – it takes practice. And not all of your body is going to be felt to begin with, in some cases very little of the body may be felt at all, but as we progress we are going to want to be able to feel inside the heart, the lungs, the spleen, the liver etc. Now you won’t be able to use your nerve system to do this, because you can’t feel with that, you have to use what we call the base of the body, and that can only be felt by building this capacity of direct perception. What cannot be felt now will gradually be able to be felt through building. It is like you are building the fitness of your mind, its capacity will develop.
To begin with, work predominantly on the areas that you can feel, because that builds the energy of concentration. This can then be translated into the areas that you cannot feel, and as your concentration builds, you will be able to feel into those areas too. If you cannot feel a part of your body it is ok to touch it to begin with if you find that helps bring mindfulness and makes concentration easier.
It is a very challenging exercise in attention that is why it requires the building of this mental muscle of concentration. We challenge it and that is how it gets fitter.[/groups_member]