When I was suffering from horrible food reactions that triggered my manic depression symptoms, one simple concentration mediation helped me focus better.
And it’s probably one of the most unusual meditation techniques for focus you’ll have ever encountered. (It’s only 2 sentences long.)
But I’m guessing it’s going to help you a ton, especially when you combine it with one of the recommendations at the end of this post.
Here’s what this post will cover:
How to Calm Down and Focus Your Mind
Chances are, you found your way to the Magnetic Memory Method because you want to improve your memory.
But here’s the thing: memory improvement is a simple thing to learn, but not if you can’t focus or concentrate.
And that’s what used to happen to me when I ate foods that weren’t good for me. It’s not that they weren’t healthy foods. But weird reactions took place whenever I ate certain ingredients, and it was a long time before I figured out what I needed to remove from my diet.
And as I explored this process through elimination diets and rotation diets, I would sometimes make a mistake and experience a MASSIVE mood swing. I would literally freak out, usually just inside my mind.
It’s like something apocalyptic. It really felt like the end of the world and I could not focus my mind.
Well, in this second post in our “Focus Your Mind” series, I’d like to share a simple process anyone can use to calm down and regain focus.
It might take a bit of practice, but what skill worth learning doesn’t require practice? (The answer is… none.) I honestly don’t know how much practice you’ll need, but for me, the results were almost instantaneous.
And that’s because I combined this simple concentration meditation with the three elegant and powerful ways to increase concentration power we discussed in part one of this series.
The simple and fast concentration meditation I have for you today comes from a long series of self-inquiry questions I’ve memorized. These questions are deceptively simple. In fact, they are so simple, some people might not even bother trying them.
Please don’t be in that crowd. We got enough hoi polloi running around mindlessly, don’t you think? And by the way, please don’t mistake me for being arrogant. Sometimes I still fall into the traps of hoi polloi thinking myself.
Focus Better With This Concentration Meditation
That’s why I love this simple and fast concentration meditation based on two self-inquiry questions:
- Are my thoughts useful?
- How do they behave?
I got these two questions from Dr. Gary Weber’s book Evolving Beyond Thought: Updating Your Brain’s Software. I highly recommend it.
When I first memorized the full Sanskrit set of self-inquiry passages given in the book, I made a fruitful mistake. You see, all the Sanskrit is listed at the back.
Below is the very first Sanskrit I memorized from the books (in English translation):
chittam eva mahaa dosham
thought alone great folly
chittam eva hi baalakaH
thought alone is small boy
chittam eva maha atma ayaM
thought alone great soul this
chittam eva maha anasat
thought alone great unreality
Now, that’s very powerful too, but when I was reciting the Sanskrit, I kept thinking, Are my thoughts useful? How do they behave?
And the answer to the question is usually something like the English translation of the Sanskrit.
My thoughts are usually completely mistaken about what is really going on in reality. They are, therefore, in folly.
The thoughts usually are something like a scared boy, running around and crying, even though I am an adult. I’ll extend that a bit further in a moment.
The point is that, although our thoughts are real, and really do happen to us, what they point to often is not real. And in the midst of pain, or food reactions and mood swings, it was very easy to get caught up in the suffering and think my thoughts were real.
It happens to a lot of people. All day long.
Create Better Focus, Memory, and Ease
Instead, with these two simple questions, you step into a state of self-reflection. With practice, the noisy thoughts simply break up and fade away.
Because I’ve gone on to memorize all 32 of the Sanskrit phrases in Evolving Beyond Thought, I’ve gotten better at breaking up thoughts for longer and longer periods of time.
This has created great stillness and made it possible for me to remember even more than I used to before. I can also read with greater focus — and that means more pleasure.
And I don’t get hung up on things like I used to, sometimes completely ensnared by internal battles that had absolutely no bearing on reality.
Now, whether you want to memorize the English or go for gold with the Sanskrit too, the process is fun, simple, and relatively easy.
I don’t know why some people take to these skills like ducks to water, but don’t worry if you struggle. Many people are able to work through their issues with the Memory Palace technique. I’ve even got a free course that takes you through everything (and includes worksheets and student examples).
And if you find yourself getting frustrated with any of the steps, just use this simple meditation to help you get past it.
Are my thoughts useful?
How do they behave?
I do this myself when taking courses and dealing with paperwork. And believe me, I take a lot of courses and deal with a ton of things, just like everyone else.
Obviously, I’m very glad I’ve memorized so many of these self-inquiry tools, but I started with just the two in this post. The impact they make helped me immediately, and it keeps getting better and better the more I practice.
Plus, Dr. Weber was very wise in placing these phrases first due to something in memory called the primacy effect, which almost guarantees that what we encounter first will be remembered the most and with the greatest ease.
Likewise, what we remember last will have similar ease. It doesn’t always happen, but if you do memorize all 32, you’ll find that there’s great wisdom in how the sequence ends too.
How to Focus Better By Taking Action
Whatever you do, just get started.
Some people overthink things, and you know what…I did too. I meditated for years, “sitting just to sit,” as Alan Watts put it. There was no way I was going to chant things or do yoga or anything that even remotely smacked of religiosity.
And to be clear, as good as the primacy effect can be, my encounter with Alan Watts’ sitting just to sit technique held me in that prison for a long time.
But I had the great fortune of someone who introduced me to Dr. Weber’s books. And because it’s all based on real science and experiments anyone can run, that was exactly what I needed to hear to give it a try.
Please be kind to yourself if you can’t get yourself to take action. I’ve been there too. I’ve been the horse led to water who would not drink so many times it almost makes me want to poke my eyes out like Oedipus with regret.
We’re just hoi polloi, every last one of us. And the sooner we realize that our memory and things like the primacy and recency effect are both a cure and a poison, the sooner we can get on with experimenting and using our memory in different ways.
If you need help to memorize the English and Sanskrit, be sure to sign up for the free course.
Maybe you’re wondering why you have dreams and desires, hopes and goals, but can’t ever be consistent in taking steps to accomplish them.
I truly have no idea, but maybe it’s a lack of focus and concentration due to unwanted thoughts. If you’re struggling to focus, please give this meditation a try.
Commit to Better Focus
One last tip:
This is going to sound crazy, but, if you really want to turn this simple meditation into a habit that lasts for life, get yourself a journal and commit to completing it for 90 days.
Richard Wiseman’s 59 Seconds goes deep into why 90 days is a kind of magic number, and you’ll get a lot more success out of that.
You want to practice so that you’re prepared — remember that in the first post of this series, I gave you some tips on how and where to set up a daily practice along with three more focus and concentration exercises you don’t want to miss.
Check it out if you haven’t already, and do those things for 90 days too.
I’m confident it will change your life completely for the better and you’ll look back and wonder why they don’t teach this stuff in schools. And then maybe you’ll go teach them in schools yourself, or at least teach someone else.
That’s important, because you learn more by teaching what you know and the more you learn, the more you can learn.
And if you want to learn how to focus better using the Memory Palace technique, don’t forget to sign up for your copy of the free memory training.