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PostPosted: 08 Feb 2013, 23:53 
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Editor note: I wrote this several years ago, and edited it for the purpose of posting it to this forum.

Meditative Focus

Meditative focus is simply a highly developed endpoint of rational, conscious control. All conscious creatures exercise some degree of rational, conscious control- however, consciously training this capacity exercises it closer towards an extreme, machine-like level of near-total self-control. Such an enhanced capacity is used in everything from enduring freezing weather, to controlling one's emotions, to rewiring one's psychology, to precisely contracting specific skeletal muscles in specific sequences to produce specific physical movements, to solving intellectual problems. Total meditative focus is a process of total rational, conscious control over all physical activities of the self- complete focusing. Obviously, total meditative focus cannot be completely achieved, only approximated to a degree. The goal is to maximize this degree of approximation, within optimization limits (i.e. without unnecessarily wasting time, resources, and energy); for example, it is often more efficient to rely on intuitive mental processes to walk across the street, rather than plan out every specific muscle contraction involved in doing this (and some processes that are more efficiently carried out unconsciously, such as the pumping of the heart, cannot be directly controlled, anyway), but when greater physical or cognitive precision is required, for example, or when behavioral inhibition is needed, total meditative focus involving complete control of all the aspects of the self directly involved in the given process is the goal.

Most conscious creatures get through life by using a confused mixture of intuition, disordered reasoning skills and lazy cognitive shortcuts, and very few can effectively calm their mind to allow a clear, undiluted focus to function within it. Few have ever observed their basest mental processes, or achieved an undisturbed general awareness of their environment. Most have never known what it is like to really mentally apply themselves, or to have a truly organized thought pattern, or to actually change their brain to any great degree (most follow the path of least resistance/work, and simply remain almost exactly the same for their entire lives). Their attention-spans are short, awarenesses easily distracted, and mental focuses weak and ineffective. Such a strategy of thought is poor and ineffective for organized, efficient training and existence, which requires a high level of mental discipline and organization. One must eliminate their disorganized thinking patterns, erase them from one’s mental framework. Within this void, an organized, machine-like ascetic mentality can be installed.

Through systematic training, the ability to intensively hyperfocus oneself on a single object or action is developed. This systematic training is divided into two main stages. The first stage involves calming/emptying one’s mind and attaining a state of immediate general awareness. Once the mind is calmed/emptied, and a state of immediate general awareness attained, then the second stage of this process is “refilling” the mind by focusing upon a single idea, point, action or thought (at advanced stages, focusing on a specific set of such ideas, points, actions, or thoughts). The first stage, while it can be utilized as a tool for training, primarily exists to establish the proper mental environment for the second stage, and one should never use it predominantly.

The first stage is the calming/emptying of one’s mind and the attaining of a state of general awareness of one's immediate environment. This stage is basically a shifting down to a basic mental state, which is used to transition between mental modes. In addition to facilitating this transitional base mental mode, Stage One functions to eliminate disorganized thought patterns and facilitate a general awareness of immediate environmental surroundings (noises, lights, movements, smells). Stage One empties the mind: drains it of distractions, erases it of present disorganization and inefficiency, and removes obstructive cultural programming. Stage One training endows one with the ability to empty thoughts at will, enabling him to efficiently organize them (and initiate a hyperfocus (stage two) which defines the active application of meditative focus). Stage One is the disordering/nihilating half of the meditative process: thought patterns are erased, and the mind is leveled. Creation is rooted in destruction: to build or enter into a hyper-rationalized, machine-like ascetic mentality, the original mentality must first be destroyed. Within this leveled mental environment, the mind can then be “refilled” with mental content in a controlled, organized, effective, undisturbed way. This is Stage Two. This refilling is the ordering half of the process: thought patterns are developed, and the mind is built up. By developing an ability to calm the mind, one increases their ability to ignore mental distractions and think and focus in a calm, undisturbed mental environment. Ineffective or distracting thoughts can simply be annihilated, and thus the content of one's mind can be strictly controlled by emptying whatever thoughts one chooses. The net effect is that the ascetic empties their mind of all thoughts except one, and then devotes all of their activity purely to this single thought. The result is a hyperfocus pinpointed onto a single thought (or idea, object, action, etc.). A trained individual, using this method, can stare at a single dot on a leaf for hours, to say nothing of conducting self-discipline, physical exertion and mental training.

Stage One

As a beginner, to start the process of calming/emptying one’s mind, one must first calm their environment, or find a calm environment, to remove/avoid any external sources of distraction. Find or create an environment with little to no noise, light, and other stimuli. Next, find a comfortable space to sit down in. One can sit anywhere- a rock, a chair, a bed, the floor, the ground, whatever. After sitting down, sit in a comfortable, upright posture. One can sit in whatever way they want, as long as it is upright, relaxed and comfortable. Comfort is important for beginners, since any pain or discomfort will only make learning meditation more difficult. At advanced stages of training, one will commonly apply meditative practices within discomforting/painful environments (such as meditating in freezing weather) in order to test and further develop meditative focus, and to apply it to endure instinctively repulsive activities, but for the beginning learning process, comfort should be maintained.

Now that you are in position, first, look around the room/area for a moment, trying to focus on your perceptions and interpretations of various stimuli: colors, sounds, movements, etc.. This process is the general awareness scan (the general idea is to empty one's mind of non-immediate perceptions/thoughts/etc. and focus solely on the immediate environment). After this, look straight ahead for a few moments, then close your eyes. Begin paying attention to the workings of your mind. Focus completely on your thoughts. What thoughts does your mind automatically drift to? What images pop up? Does music you heard earlier seep back into your mind? What kinds of thought strategies are you using? What are you thinking about? Take note of things like these, plotting a general outline of your mind.

Next, after achieving conscious familiarity with the normal thoughts, images and patterns of one’s mind, one must now begin to train in emptying the mind of these phenomena- annihilating them. To do this, focus on your breathing. Every single time an image or thought pops up, immediately negate it by recentering your attention on your breathing. As you are doing it, DO NOT think about your breathing- only focus on it to pull your mind from wandering and keep it in check. Your mind must contain nothing. Do not even think about the concept of nothing, for even this is something. Your mind must have nothing. It must be empty. This will probably take multiple attempts to fully master, and do not expect to fully empty your mind in the first meditation session. Continue conditioning your mind like this until you can easily, rapidly switch your mind to an empty/calmed state. This empty/calmed state is the base/transitional mental state that is used to shift between mental modes and conduct a general awareness scan of the immediate environment.

Note that this state of emptiness is NOT intended to be continued indefinitely as some sort of “nirvana” or spiritual bliss. This state is used as a base and transitional mental state to shift between other (actively thinking) mental states, and to organize these other active thoughts.

The process of Stage One training is a necessary prerequisite for developing the important ability of selectively emptying thoughts- rather than emptying all thought all the time. Through the ability to clear one’s mind of active thought, the individual has greater control over which thoughts they specifically focus on and allow into their consciousness (since they can simply remove any thought they choose).

Metaphysically, Stage One of meditative focus is the process of leveling the mind, mentally detaching from the flux, numbing the suffering. However, anyone training for their own strengthening wants the suffering, embraces the flux and conflict, and thirsts for the resistance and pain and discomfort. Not only are these processes inseparable from life and existence, but they are intrinsic to all strengthening, including mental strengthening. One must not spare their mind from hardening. That is why Stage One is not intended to be continued indefinitely, consistently or repetitively: it is a preparatory step for applying meditative focus, which renders the individual more fully alive and mentally reconnected to the flux.

Stage Two

The second stage of meditative training is the actual meditative focus: hyperfocusing on a single idea, point, action, thought, etc.. This stage can only be initiated in an empty mind, as the concentration upon a single thing requires an undivided focus that can only exist in a calm and undisturbed mental state void of all other conscious processes- the process of emptying intrusive and distracting thoughts as they arise must be continuously conducted in order to fully focus upon a single thing.

The first step of Stage Two meditative training is to learn how to selectively apply the calming/emptying process one has learned in Stage One training to specific thoughts. This is the most important beginning step.

To begin this process, first calm/empty your mind. Focus on your breathing. After a moment or two, shift into Stage Two: choose a specific point in space to focus on. Choose a specific point on the face of a wall, or close your eyes and create an imaginary plane in your mind with one specific point to focus on. Either way, begin to concentrate all of your mental focus on this single point. By beginning to focus on a single point, you are essentially 'refilling' your mind with a single thing (and thus igniting it back into active thought). Unlike using your breathing as a check on wandering thoughts, you will cognitively think about this point: visualize it, analyze its distance from other points around it, etc. The goal is to focus all of your conscious thought onto this single point. Every single time a distracting, intrusive thought appears, immediately empty this thought from your mind and refocus on the point. This process of emptying all thoughts except one, which is intensively focused on, is what defines the process of hyperfocusing, i.e. meditative focus.

After one can easily focus on this single point and successfully block out all other thoughts for about one hour, the next step is to move on to more challenging mental material: replace the single point with an idea, image, action or subject, and hyperfocus on it. Examine this thing: analyze it, visualize it, deduce its properties, quantify its components. Again, any distracting thoughts must be removed while refocusing one’s attention onto this specific thing. Continue doing this until you can apply this hyperfocusing ability with ease for an extended period of time, and it becomes second-nature. Once this has been achieved, one has successfully developed the capacity for meditative focus.

The final step is to begin applying this hyperfocusing to training in general. Consider cold desensitization as an example. This activity is performed by simply sitting outside with little or no clothing in sub-freezing temperatures. While sitting, one becomes chilled very quickly, and instinctively wants to stop immediately and seek warmth, whether by huddling, running inside or putting a jacket on. Do not do any of these things. All of these escapes reduce conflict, which defeats the entire point of exposing oneself to increased conflict in order to stimulate actualization (in this case: psychological and physiological tolerance to sub-freezing temperatures). First, empty/calm your mind. By eliminating thought, one becomes consciously numb to the cold. Next, and quickly, within this calm and empty frame of mind, refill your mind with a single center of focus- in this case, the activity of enduring the cold weather. This will reintroduce the conscious awareness of the conflict, but this time- unlike before -this awareness will be controlled and hyperfocused. Focus all of your conscious mental energy on this single task: enduring the cold. Any time a distracting thought dilutes your focus, especially if it involves seeking warmth, empty this thought from your mind. Every time your chest muscles begin contracting to huddle your shoulders and so reduce the surface area of your skin directly exposed to the cold (where heat can escape), inhibit this muscular impulse, and forcefully hold your shoulders back. This is meditative focus. Sit upright, straighten your back, and bask in the freezing cold, feeling every last bit of pain, and willfully enduring it all.

Through meditative focus, one injects themselves with increased drive, resolve and stamina. By focusing one’s mind on battling through the conflict, and eliminating all thoughts and inhibiting all movements that threaten to pull one out of it, one forces oneself to endure it. This drastically increases exposure time to greater levels of conflict. The end result is increased actualization.

As another example, consider weight lifting. By doing a heavy, deep squat, one is creating and self-imposing a large amount of conflict on themselves However, many may not like the pain and discomfort of this physical exertion. Thus, if they have an untrained mind, they will simply reduce conflict: start doing partial squats, give up on the last few reps, cheat using bad form, reduce the weight or even use excuses to justify taking a ten minute break. In the extreme, they may simply rationalize and say “I don’t like squats.” or “I don't need to do them to grow.”, or, worse, “I run/horseback ride/do whatever so my legs get exercised enough.” and stop doing them completely. This reduction in conflict is completely incompatible with serious progressive training. By first emptying the mind as a preparatory step, one can numb and detach themselves from this pain and discomfort, removing this psychological barrier to creating/self-imposing/enduring conflict and allowing enough time for meditative focus to take effect. Then, by concentrating one’s focus and emptying detracting thoughts, one can completely devote their energies to maintaining, and even increasing, this conflict, as well as concentrating their energies on continuously enduring it for extended lengths of time. In this case: adding an extra rep or two, slightly increasing the weight, being efficient in rests between sets, employing proper form and tempo, and so on.

As should be obvious, use judgment when applying meditative focus. If your knee starts aching when doing a squat, for example, it’s probably not a good idea to block out and endure the pain with meditative focus and do three more sets, since this could easily cause injuries. However, do not let this judgment become overly protective and start using baseless rationalizations to justify a reduction in conflict. Unless one is clearly in danger of being permanently/severely injured, or maintaining and increasing it is counterproductive or less effective, there is no justification whatsoever for reducing conflict. Cold, impersonal calculation is vital.

Concluding Remarks

That is the training and application of meditative focus (plus a little bit of philosophical theory behind it), in a nutshell. In theory, it is very simple- it just takes a lot of effort, and so is very challenging. Once it has been mastered, it can be applied to practically any activity.

Also, note that the regions and circuits in brain that do the functions described here have a limited energy supply, and performing this self-control requires a lot of fuel. Enduring everyday stress can sap a lot of this energy, if this environmental stress is consistent enough (and/or if there is enough of it), and this can make you weak in the face of further distractions, impulses, and temptations. Most sexual binges, in my case, have immediately followed several days of particularly intensive social and emotional stress. This is where strategizing becomes important.

That said, one's mental endurance can be improved, and this is done through brute training (literally speaking, training will lead to cellular changes that enhance mitochondrial synthesis in neurons, increase blood vessel growth (and thus nutrient influx) into these specific areas of the brain, and so on).

I'm not at an elite-level at anything, at this point, but there is little doubt I am still mentally and physically superior to most people in most ways. If any of you wonder why this is, meditative focus is a large chunk of the reason why. Some of my strength is just natural talent, but a lot of it is health and excellence that has been painstakingly forged over the past six years. By applying meditative focus in all of your training, you become a self-sharpening sword- you self-actualize your own potential, sculpt your life into what you envision, and direct your existence to the endpoint of your choice. You become a master of your existence.


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PostPosted: 06 Apr 2013, 21:15 
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Seems like a great article! Breathing is an important part, I wrote a whole article about love-shyness and breathing in the stickies.

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PostPosted: 08 Sep 2015, 12:05 
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I've always just done this intuitively, without any meditation. If there's a tough problem where casual everyday thinking isn't enough to fully grasp it, then I go off somewhere quiet and comfortable, close my eyes, and basically focus entirely on the problem, examining it carefully, focusing my will on defining and encapsulating the issue and how the bits fit together. I'm usually oblivious to the world around me unless something startling happens. But it usually works pretty well.

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PostPosted: 08 Sep 2015, 22:21 
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Fonduman wrote:
I've always just done this intuitively, without any meditation. If there's a tough problem where casual everyday thinking isn't enough to fully grasp it, then I go off somewhere quiet and comfortable, close my eyes, and basically focus entirely on the problem, examining it carefully, focusing my will on defining and encapsulating the issue and how the bits fit together. I'm usually oblivious to the world around me unless something startling happens. But it usually works pretty well.

Everyone does it to one degree or another, of course, but it is always possible to strengthen it more. In this domain, you are analogous to someone that walks into the gym for the first time and squats 315 lbs- very innately talented; but there is always room for more improvement through systematic training.


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PostPosted: 08 Sep 2015, 22:45 
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Meditation is for Asians.

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PostPosted: 08 Sep 2015, 23:28 
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PostPosted: 08 Sep 2015, 23:42 
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Asians meditate in order to restore their health and mana.

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