Eureka Springs, AR is a place on Earth that evokes a natural ability to concentrate. The environment here fosters a focus on nature, people, joy, fun, art, music and more. In Eureka Springs, visitors, guests, residents alike take time to bask in this place and what it offers. We concentrate. We focus our energy on what makes Eureka, Eureka! We make Eureka, Eureka and we strive to make Eureka even better than it was yesterday.
Most people allow someone or something outside of them to control where their awareness goes and according to Sivaya Subramuniyaswami "where awareness goes, energy flows."
"Where awareness goes, energy flows." -Sivaya Subramuniyaswami
This is probably one of the most important things to learn on our life journey.
First, it is important to know that awareness and the mind are two very separate things. Second, our mind does not wander; our awareness moves within the mind.
If you are a person whose awareness races through the mind all day, then your energy is also flowing all over the place. Most people allow this to happen and perpetuate this habit by practicing it all day, every day.
Your life is a manifestation of where you direct your energy. So, that being said, when you are able to concentrate your awareness toward one thing, you begin to direct your energy toward it, and that thing starts to manifest in your life.
To master the fine art of concentration, one must develop the ability to control their awareness for an extended period of time until there is a conscious choice to shift it to something else.
In this blog post, it is my hope to bring awareness to the fine art of concentration in the hope that it will spark inspiration for you on your life journey.
Many people, millions actually, practice distraction for hours upon hours per day. Think about that statistic for a moment, millions of people practice distraction for hours every day.
People are quickly losing the ability to maintain concentration and focus.
Many are true masters of distraction. It's become the only way that they know how to live. They move from task-to-task all day long and they allow the things in their life to control what they place their awareness upon. If we continue to practice distraction for hours a day, what do we become good at after just a short period of time?
The short answer, we become good at whatever we practice. Practice violin for eight months, you'll be better at it. Practice meditation for four months, you'll be better at it. Practice cooking for a year, you'll be better at it -- and so on...
What we've lost control of is the fact that we've become unaware of what it is we're practicing - year over year. Without realizing it, you're probably practicing distraction; and, like most people, you're probably very, very good at it.
"Master your mind, master your life." - Dandapani, monk
For a moment, let's consider a comparison of energy and water. It you took a watering can, and watered your garden both the weeds and the flowers would grow. Water does not discriminate. If it flows toward something that needs it to grow, it will grow.
Energy is no different. As you wake up every day with a full "watering can" of your energy and begin to move through your day, your garden, do you know what you are watering with your energy?
If you take your energy and water it onto something negative, it will grow and become more. Yes, more negative. If you take your energy and water it onto something positive, it will become more. More positive.
Right now, you are the sum total of where you've been watering your energy in the garden of life.
Awareness and the mind; and willpower
One of the key concepts of understanding the mind is to completely
understand the difference between (1) awareness (2) the mind and how (3) willpower plays a very vital role in managing awareness effectively.
Think of awareness as a glowing ball of light that can float around.
2: the mind
The mind is a vast space with many different areas within it. Areas include: joy, food, art, science, technology, language, happiness, sadness, depression, anger, peace, love and many, many more...
Your awareness, (that floating, glowing ball of light) can actually go to any area of the mind. So if your ball of light goes to the happy area of the mind, it will light up that particular area and you then become conscious of being happy.
Now, here's the important part...
Q. Are you happy?
A. No, your simply in an area of the mind called happiness.
The same holds true, if your glowing ball of light goes to the angry area of the mind, it will light up that particular area and you then become conscious of anger.
Q. Are you angry?
A. No, your simply in an area of the mind called anger.
So, by using your willpower, you can harness the skill of concentration to take that floating, glowing ball of light to ANY area of the mind that you want at any time and LIGHT UP that area.
We can all agree that it is easier to observe how much inborn willpower there is in a person when they are a child versus an adult. Think about the children that you know, you can often tell right away that each child has a different amount of natural willpower.
One of your kids wants to buy a toy so he asks, “Mom, can I have $25 to buy this?” You may respond with, “Sure, but you need to work and earn $25.” They might respond with, “Really? I don’t want to work. I’ll just wait until Christmas…” (which is seven months away.)
Another child might respond with, “OK, I’m going to go pick some lemons, create a lemonade stand, work hard selling lemonade and make the $25, so I can get the toy.”
Observing both children, the latter has more willpower. There is a great determination in the second child, a calling forth of all his inner energies, his glowing, floating ball of light that he chooses to direct towards a single point-of-focus to accomplish his goal.
THAT is willpower.
Take a brief moment, and recall the last time you attended a funeral, you will begin to recall things like who passed away, who also attended the funeral, what was the experience like, what did you feel at the time; as you do this, you just gave me permission to take your "floating, glowing ball of light" and move it from where it was a moment ago, to where I asked you to move it.
This happens all day, every day.
Like this, throughout the course of our busy days, we allow people and things to dictate where our awareness goes and because this is so, this is where our energy flows as well and where our energy flows is what manifests in our life.
Whatever I water, starts to grow.
So consider this...
Do not set-out to control your mind, instead set-out to control your awareness; that floating, glowing ball of light. Set out to be aware of what area of the mind that awareness orb is lighting up.
Q. How? How do we do this?
A. Practice concentration more than distraction.
Concentration: is the ability to keep your awareness on one thing for an extended period of time.
If I keep my awareness on my chihuahua Kirby, and hold my floating, glowing ball of light on him, I'm concentrating on one thing - Kirby. If I allow my ball of light to move away from Kirby, I'm getting distracted and I use my willpower to bring my awareness back and hold it back on Kirby. Being able to do this, and do it effectively, allows me to get better at the art of concentration.
I make a choice to practice concentration MORE than practicing distraction.
You bring things into your life by placing awareness on them.
Don’t control the mind, control awareness.
Practice concentration, not distraction, by focusing on one thing at a time throughout the day.
Energy is a finite resource. Each day you wake up with a certain amount of energy in your watering can. It’s up to you where your energy flows.