Focus Is the Thing
The value of good art is that it takes you somewhere that you wouldn’t necessarily be able to go by yourself. Fixing one’s attention upon an exceptional painting or symphony or some other type of art creates within us new mental and emotional impressions which have the definite effect of making us feel as though we are visiting a new place in the universe.
The faculty of the attention is an amazing and powerful thing. It is like a laser beam, which we use to both send and receive information and energy. If a person is hypnotized and given the task of keeping a single thought foremost in his mind, it has been proven that many unusual feats can be performed compared to what is commonly possible. Unfortunately, we in the Western Hemisphere dwell in a culture where single-minded concentration is not common or easy to cultivate. We are easily distracted because we habituate ourselves to constant change in the flow of our mental worlds, which dilutes the power of this faculty.
Returning, Returning, Returning …
To me, an integral part of meditation is the shutting down of the distractible, outer mind so that we can keep our attention upon what we desire with ease. Some schools of meditation urge that the practitioner contemplate nothing, or emptiness. Others urge the contemplation of something such as a virtue, one’s breathing or the form of some object. Both methods work. The basic idea is to give the soul something to fix her attention upon while wrestling with and ultimately subjugating the flow of impressions and cogitations, which our lower minds normally indulge in ceaselessly. When we succeed at this, it is like our soul consciousness (the real you) is awake but our body and mind are asleep.
What this process looks like is the gentle but persistent return of the attention to the object of contemplation over and over. It can seem daunting at first, and I was chagrined when I first began to do this at how frequently and how quickly my mind would wander away after every little sound and idea that passed by. While you are doing this, it can seem like you are wrestling with a rebellious child. Never mind. Persist. The benefits are well worth the effort. If you set aside some time early in the morning each day to practice this art, you’ll see definite results in a matter of weeks or perhaps a few months, depending upon your level of effort. It’s better to practice for even a short time every day than to attempt to practice for long periods less frequently.
Making the Most of Our Connection
I’d like to share a wonderfully effective meditation, which I’ve practiced for about a year with great results. Many people believe in the idea of a “Higher Self” which is a part of each of us but which dwells in the planes of pure Spirit. This Higher Self, or Oversoul, is usually credited with a lot of the inspiration that ordinary people are given at times. And the Higher Self is believed to be omniscient and one with the universe and all other Higher Selves of all sentient life. I personally see my Higher Self as an incredibly brilliant ball of light and power hovering just above me. And I feel that it is connected to me in the center of my chest in a spiritual center there.
One day I read a book called Electrons published by the Bridge to Freedom organization. It is about this Higher Self and the connection it has into our bodies and energy systems. It explains that spiritual light is pouring down through this threadlike connection into our bodies constantly as long as we are alive. It also explains in great detail the nature of this light as being millions of tiny particles of pure energy, which are the building blocks of all creation and the energy that animates all life. This explanation really fired me up to explore and try to experience for myself this light and its benefits.
The Brilliant Light of My Higher Self
I decided that the way I would proceed was to begin by contemplating and visualizing the bright ball of light above me and to actively create a very tactile feeling of the connection to it within my heart. At first, it usually took me at least fifteen to thirty minutes of effort before I began to actually feel a burning, swelling sensation in my chest. And it was usually accompanied by a feeling as though the light was rebounding up into my nasal and brain cavity, creating a gentle but exhilarating pressure there.
After I had established a definite, strong feeling and visualization of the ball of light above me and the connection and burning sensation in my chest, I switched to keeping my attention solely upon the ball of light above me, allowing the now enhanced waterfall of energy to continue to grow into an ever brighter center of light in my chest cavity. My goal from then on was to keep my mind empty and to keep my attention raptly and lovingly upon the brilliant light of the Higher Self above me. And the idea from there was that the light now emanating from my chest cavity would radiate out in ever-increasing waves, blessing other parts of life. This visualization can be held for as long as one cares to.
Listening to the One Voice
This meditation is basically a type of “active passivity”—one in which all of your energy and attention is engaged in creating a state of receiving but from one source only. I call it “listening” because it is like tuning out all the conversations in a room except for the one you want to really hear.
I can hardly begin to describe the benefits I’ve gained from doing this meditation. One of the more powerful and memorable benefits is that with repetitions and practice, I could begin to communicate telepathically with this higher part of myself and be taught by this Presence. Try this way of reconnecting to and communing with your Higher Self and light up the world around you in the process.
— Boyd Badten