Training the mind to think better..

In the last few posts, we have been discussing about the two qualities of the mind:  focusing and expanding. May be it is interesting to look at some simple techniques that can train the mind on these. Though I hate to be prescriptive, I will take an exception here for these might be quiet useful for some of you. These are simple but very profound techniques.

When the “focussing’ aspect is weak, it is experienced as lack of concentration and poor memory. Fundamentally, there is a problem with continuity here, which disturbs a thought train. Here is a simple technique to strengthen this:

Sit quietly, close your eyes and count from 1 to 100 and then back, slowly. If you are distracted and lose your count gently bring the mind back and resume. Do it for few days and once you can do this comfortably, increase the count.

Children whose memory is poor and lack concentration can also use this. But regular practice is needed for few days or even weeks.

I do believe that memorizing things and reciting from memory also has a similar effect, but I haven’t really explored this much.

When the ‘expanding’ aspect is weak, people get too much trapped in thinking and this has an adverse effect on creativity. You can strengthen this by flooding the consciousness with sense perceptions.

Normally, your mind (thinking logical mind) plays a key role in sense perceptions such as seeing. That is why you selectively notice things around you and also miss out on details. But the moment you pay attention to every minute detail, movement etc, something opens up. Walk around seeing everything intently without trying to think, categorize, name, form opinion etc. The mind stops and the consciousness will be flooded with pure perceptions.

The same is true with sound – pay attention to all the sounds around and also the silent gaps between the sounds. Or touch – feel the body touching the cloths, the foot touching the floor, the breath touching your nostrils..

The technique of filling the consciousness with sense perceptions is a meditation technique used in many spiritual traditions.

There is also a ‘walking meditation’ practiced in Buddhist tradition where in one walks slowly, consciously with full awareness of each and every movement and perceptions. Become aware as the leg lifts, moves forwards, touches the floor, wait shifts etc..

As we have discussed, both these aspects need to be strengthened for better thinking. But too much emphasis on one will create an imbalance; one needs to balance the practice with his own natural inclination of thinking.

The only problem with these techniques is that they are too simple for the logical mind to accept and appreciate. It needs something more challenging and attractive.

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