-Steps to Mind Training
Anthony R. Quintiliani, Ph.D., LADC
To pacify your mind you need to train your mind. Mind training leads to liberation from brain-mind-heart-body automatic processes and reactions. A well-trained mind allows you to utilize executive functions (attention and concentration) to alter auto-reactions of the brain, body and heart. A trained mind liberates you from unhelpful thoughts, emotions and behaviors via reduced attachment, craving and clinging. A trained mind liberates you! Often this liberation appears as both the dearth of cognition and the expansion of experiential awareness.
As you practice mind training, you may notice improved attention and concentration skills. These important skills allow you to have improved personal control over cognition, affect, behavior as well as sensory processing (visual, auditory, kinesthetic, olfactory and gustatory) in the present moment. Prolonged mind training enables you to better deal with such CABS-VAKGO experiences in your past and in your future. So often humans are stuck in the pain or longing from the past as well as fear/anxiety about the future. A very basic way to begin mind training is to practice breath meditation (or meditation on a selected object of mind). Let’s begin with a basic breath meditation – meditating on your breath.
1) Sit in a dignified meditation posture, loosen your jaw and relax other body muscles, and begin to breathe gently in slower, calmer, deeper fashion. Do not force your breath; simply allow your intention to focus on a relaxed breath to guide you. It is rare that this form of breathing causes anxiety. However, if it does for you, you may need to find another breathing practice to do. Or you may breathe in a way that does not cause anxiety for you.
2) On each exhalation count one via your private speech. Hold your inner speech all the way to the end of the exhalation. This will reduce the possibility of other thoughts distracting you from attending to your breath. Count all the way to ten exhalations, then begin at one again. If you lose count, simply begin at one again. If you find yourself counting beyond ten, simply begin at one again. If you have difficulty doing this, you can visually imagine the number you are saying. Tracking the breath is a very common way to begin basic mind training in meditation.
3) Pay close attention to the nature of your mind. You may notice that you experience “monkey mind,” in which your thoughts just keep on coming into awareness – thus blocking you from improved attention and concentration. You may wish to practice simply observing your thoughts and letting them go. Each time bring your attention back to your breath and your counting. Be very gentle with yourself; this is not so easy to do. Use your mind-intention to remain focused on your exhalations and counting.
4) Each time you become aware of your brain’s autopilot taking over your mind, simply bring attention back to the breath and counting. Be gentle! Simply note and let go of your thoughts and allow your MIND to focus attention on your breath and counting. Becoming aware that you DO have some control over what you think may be an important discovery for some.
5) Continue this basic practice for as long as you can, but do not do it beyond your kind heartedness. If continuing this practice makes you upset or aggressive with yourself, stop and begin again at another time. Remain interested, self-compassionate and kind in this process.
6) You may note some small gratification that you were able to use your mind to counteract auto processes of the brain, heart and body. Try not to become attached to your success. Just practice more.
Anthony R. Quintiliani, Ph.D., LADC
Author of Mindful Happiness
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