Today we have a problem of epic proportions! That is concentration or attention. There must be always something to do.
Imagine you had a day off. You will go shopping. Or you will watch TV, watched it for 10 minutes so let’s flick over to a new channel. Or let’s go on my phone, download apps, delete apps, go on apps, flick through them every ten seconds. Facebook…like…like…comment. Twitter..tweet…read…tweet…read. Instagram…post a photo….like photos…post photos…like photos. Oh, let me eat something! Confusion? What can I eat I am bored! Do you get the picture now? No! Okay, let me sit down and meditate. Do I look spiritual? Oh, meditation isn’t a spiritual practice so I can still be a cool atheist. Let me meditate…empty my mind…empty my mind…food….shark…Tesco…absence of thought but thought of absence of thought…shifting gears in a car…dustbins…porn. I give up after two minutes that seemed like two hours.
Concentration is a lost art. I say this with a sad face!
At first, I noticed this problem within myself. I used to sit in satsang (sacred gathering) and bring out my mobile phone and not take in what was being said. The problem was not my phone. It was me. Was I ready to admit this? Hell no! It is easier to blame my mind because I know I am not the mind. Oh wait! It is on loan to me so I am kind of responsible. This went on for a year and then I stopped. I realised that this wasn’t a problem that I had, this was going on around me. When we do anything and we do not focus with complete presence then sadly we lose whatever is being discussed. Sometimes, words can be heard but it is the essence, the feel of the speaker, the gestures, the expressions, the tone of the speaker that really hits you. Yet, if I am on my phone then am I taking that in? Is a text message or a whatsapp message more important? Can a phone call wait? Do I need to check that needless FaceBook notification? Do I need to check that email that somehow has passed the junk filter? I definitely do not need it.
If I was sitting in front of my Guru and He was talking to me and I just took my phone out, would that be disrespectful? Of course. We say that the Satguru is present in the Satsang, so if He is present and I am taking my phone out then that means not only am I ignoring Him but I am disrespecting Him too. Am I really seeing Satsang as a place to learn or has it become a social club?
When I sit in the Satsang now, away from my phone I can truly concentrate. I access the Formless, concentrate on the speaker without any distractions. I find that my mind does wander time to time and I bring it back to the present moment. I guide it with respect and a little love. If it is being a cheeky monkey then I give it a battering and tell it to behave. The thing is I have been trained to be in control of the mind and not the other way.
The question is how can I do this?
Start meditating. Start with 5 minutes and then every third day, go up 5 minutes. I only meditate for a maximum of 20 minutes and it is intense from the first second. My meditation happens whenever and wherever as the goal is to be aware that you are aware. Then start being aware of every action you do and you will feel the intensity of every action. It is beautiful and a great access to bliss and peace. You will enter great relaxation and the by product of this relaxation is that the mind wants more of it so it relaxes too.
The mind will go places. It will travel but your responsibility is to remain aware of this moment, the formless moment.
It is sad that we have lost concentration and it means that our sacred spaces have no space in our mind. This is sad. I encourage you that whenever you go to your place of worship, put your phone away, keep it in the car or leave it at home. Or avoid looking at it. It is important that we learn the art of concentration again or we will lose all art.