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“Hmm. Control, control. You must learn control.” (Master Yoda)
Levitating v1 CATS1 Master your mind to master your world

You know the feeling when you’re trying your utmost to concentrate on some form of mental labor: a chapter in a book, a PowerPoint presentation, an email, etc, but your mind just keeps wandering off along convoluted lines of thought you could not trace back even if asked. You give yourself a stern mental slap on the wrist and refocus on the matter at hand, only to find moments later that you’ve done it again, still stuck on the same sentence you were at earlier. Or how many times have you sat down for a nice meal and found yourself absent-mindedly wolfing it down while your thoughts linger on work stuff or an argument you’ve had earlier in the day?

These are all signs that at the moment, you are not the master of your mind, i.e. you do not direct the focus of your attention, but rather the opposite: you are kindly afforded glimpses to whatever your haphazardly wandering mind lands upon. If this is the case, you need to recognize the dire need to take action. First of all, you are losing precious time while your mind wanders. Instead of completing a task in an hour, you use four, spending three of them wondering what was the name of that actor who played Elrond in Lord of the Rings (see answer at bottom of post). Also, not to get all Dead Poets Society on you, but you are not seizing the day. If your mind is elsewhere during that scrumptious meal or that round of golf, are you really enjoying them?

If a muscle is weak, you train it, right? Well, the same applies to your mind, and this comparison is more accurate than you’d first think. You can train your mind in many ways, meditation is one of the simplest. Before you roll your eyes and wonder if  I’m going to tell you to hug a tree and start eating granola next, let me tell you: if you think meditation is only for Buddhist monks and hemp-wearing space-cadets, think again. There are versions of meditation that fit into a Western lifestyle and timetable, with no ashrams, incense or lotus-positions required. One of the most popular versions is Victor Davich’s 8 minute meditation, which is exactly what it sounds like: a guide to meditation where you meditate 8 minutes a day, and that’s it. The results are apparent in the first week already: You really start to sink into whatever you are doing and even when you drift off you catch yourself much faster than you used to. It’s an easy, easy fix with a huge upside.

Implementing this habit in four simple steps you can take today:

  1. Find a quiet room where you will not be disturbed by outside noise, preferably with a lock so you won’t be interrupted either. Use earplugs if necessary. Set a timer for 8 minutes and sit in an upright position with your hands in your lap so that your back is unsupported. This is to stop you from stooping and hunching your back. Close your eyes and take a deep breath. Now start your timer.
  2. Breathe naturally, at a rhythm and depth which feels comfortable for you. As you breathe, the mere movement of the air and your diaphragm will create sensations in your body: It could be the air rushing into your nostrils or the fabric of your clothes rubbing against your skin. Whatever sensation is most prominent for you, focus on that. Imagine that sensation just became the most fascinating thing in the world for you. Don’t think of anything else, merely keep breathing and observing the sensation that occurs.
  3. Inevitably, your mind will start to wander into things like counting how many times you have managed to breathe without losing your focus, what you are going to do immediately after meditating, how you are going to solve that problem at work, and so forth. This is unavoidable, so don’t feel upset when this happens, rather just gently return your focus to the sensation, and keep doing so every time you find yourself daydreaming. When your timer rings, congratulate yourself.  You’ve just meditated!
  4. No matter if the heavens fall, do your utmost to maintain this habit for 30 days. Anyone can meditate 8 minutes a day for a measly month, right? This should be no problem. Also, feel free to pat yourself on the back whenever you notice improved concentration and control over your thoughts in your daily life. That’s the Jedi in you growing.

This is only one simple technique, which quite frankly works well for us. Nevertheless, there are countless other methods, e.g. focusing on sounds around you, reciting a mantra in your mind, etc. Another technique could well work for you, and Victor’s book basically introduces 8 different ones. At the end you can choose to continue with only one if you wish, but at least you’ll be proficient in all 8. If you think the book would help you attain the habit of meditation and the awesome benefits brought by it, then do yourself a favor: order the book immediately from e.g. Amazon. It’s not expensive and an easy read.

You can also read the first few pages of the book here to get an idea of the tone. If you don’t want the book then we recommend studying a few meditation websites which explain the easiest non-time consuming meditation techniques, e.g. a few good ones seem to be listed here. Then practice them 8 minutes a day, switching techniques after each week so you get an idea of what works and what doesn’t.

I must levitate now. Peace be with you, child.

meditation v21 Master your mind to master your world

P.S. Elrond was played by Hugo Weaving. Did your mind wander to some scene in the movie or book at the mention of LOTR, thus interrupting your reading? That’s exactly the kind of problem I’m talking about!

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