Commonly in many parapsychological oriented communities, or that of general metaphysics, the use of meditation, breathing exercises, or long term sessions geared towards a single goal is used to in turn create the desired outcome. Be that outcome the progression of some say it “psychic” phenomena, or that of spiritual advancement. Whatever the outcome is, there is a simple, and I say this, simple concept that is often always overlooked.
In sifting through various websites I have found that not only is this topic addressed very little, it is also one of the most important things to address when dealing with matters of the brain, and thus the mind. This topic is clearly the thought of the brain, being that of a muscle, and like all muscles it needs to be exercised regularly to keep it healthy…
Why Does This Apply To Me?
Whatever your goal, or reason in reading this blog, it applies to you, as it applies to everyone. Just as intelligence is power, a powerful mind is of the utmost importance when doing anything within the metaphysical world of things. It improves concentration, memory, thought skills, intelligence, etc… Which is very much so important. This should be easily seen at this point in time, if it was not known before. Though this information may not come as a surprise to some of you, it is still neglected in most articles geared towards your advancement, and should be enacted to better yourself in all aspects of life.
The Brain is a thinking organ, which works with its world and environment by interaction and perception. Our brains are able to effectively rewire itself and adapt, even in old age. Hence forth, with disease aside, the major cause for the decline in mental functioning in old age is due to a lack of exercise and new experiences to stimulate the brain. If the opposite, however, is applied, it can cause a new production of neurons. What this means, for the sake of simplicity, is that the more you work, challenge, and offer your brain diverse experiences, it makes it stronger, which has extremely positive long term effects.
I’m going to give you various exercises that should be practiced on a regular basis. These exercises will increase your sensitivity, concentration, memory, etc… Some of these exercises will seem familiar to a few of you, depending on your choice in reading material, others you have probably not been seen and seldom will. Either way I present them here only because I have/do personally use them and find them extremely useful.
Focus is a crucial component in everything you attempt to do when it comes to Psionics, Heremetics, or just general Meditation and every day life experiences. It is true that you can accomplish things without the most focus in the world, however, having a good amount of focus makes things go a lot smoother, and there are some instances whereby you cannot do without. Focus is also not like riding a bike, it takes constant attention and practice to build and maintain.
The following exercises come directly from the book Initiation Into Hermetics, By Franz Bardon. They are very effective, henceforth why I am listing them here. They are well written and explained thoroughly, so there is little need for me to rewrite them in anyway, as I could do them no better justice.
The first step in acquiring a keen level of focus is to get a handle on the main distracting issue we all face, our own thoughts. Incoincidentally, it is also the first step of mental training offered in the book, so it is where we will start:
“Thought Control: Discipline of Thoughts, & Subordination of Thoughts
Take a seat in a comfortable chair or lie down on a settee. Relax the whole body, close your eyes and observe the train of your thoughts for five minutes, trying to retain it. At first, you will find that there are rushing up to you thoughts concerning everyday affairs, professional worries, and the like. Take the behavior of a silent observer toward these trains of thoughts, freely and independently.
According to the mentality and the mental situation you happen to be in at the moment, this exercise will be more or less easy for you. The main point is not to forget yourself, not to lose the train of thoughts, but to pursue it attentively. Beware of falling asleep while doing this exercise. If you begin to feel tired, stop instantly and postpone the exercise to another time, when you intent not to give in to tiredness. The Indians sprinkle cold water on their faces or rub down the face and upper part of their bodies to remain brisk and not waste precious time. Some deep breathing before you begin will also prevent tiredness and sleepiness. As time goes on, each disciple will find out such little tricks by himself. This exercise of controlling thoughts has to be undertaken in the morning and at night. It is to be extended each day by one minute to allow the train of thoughts to be pursued and controlled without the slightest digression for a time of 10 minutes at least after a week’s training.
This space of time is destined to the average man. If it should not suffice, everyone can extend it according to his own apposition. In any event, it is advisable to proceed very consciously, because it is of no use to hurry, development being quite individual in men. On no account go further before the preceding exercise is perfectly under control. “
- Franz Bardon, “Initiation into Hermetics”, Practical Exercises, Step #1
This is the first step for a reason. Without adequate thought control it proves to be very difficult in later exercises, such as meditation, which also happens to be the one subject I will probably stress above any other subjects in later posts. It is recommended that you do not move on until you meet the requirements he lists. Being hasty will get you no where and give you nothing more than wasted time and thus effort. I cannot stress enough the need for patience, rushing through is a serious waste of your own time and the only one you are cheating is yourself. Once this is completed and to an adequate level you are content with, Franz continues by saying:
“Up to now we have learned to control our thoughts. The next exercise will consist in not giving way in our mind to thoughts obtruding themselves in our mind, unwanted and obstinate. For instance, we must be able not to occupy ourselves any longer with the tasks and worries of our profession when we come home from work and return the family circle and privacy. All thoughts not belonging to our privacy must be set aside, and we ought to manage to become quite a different personality instantly. And just the other way around: in our job, all thoughts have to be concentrated in it exclusively, and we must not allow them to digress our wander home, to private affairs, or elsewhere. This has to be practiced time and again until it has developed into a habit. Above all, one ought to accustom oneself to achieve whatever one does with full consciousness, whether in professional work or in private, regardless whether the point is a big one or a trifle. This exercise should be kept for a lifetime, because it is sharpening the mind and strengthening the consciousness and the memory. “
- Franz Bardon, “Initiation into Hermetics”, Practical Exercises, Step #1
Having obtained a certain skill in this exercise, you may turn to the following one. The purpose will now be to hold onto a single thought or idea for a longer while, and to suppress any other thoughts associating and obtruding with force on the mind. Choose for this purpose any train of thoughts or ideation or a suitable presentation according to your personal taste. hold onto this presentation with all your strength. Vigorsoulsy refuse all the other thoughts that have nothing to do with the thoughts being exercised. At first you probably will succeed only for a few seconds, later on for minutes. You must manage to concentrate on one single thought and follow it for 10 minutes at least.”
The exercise of keeping personal thoughts for personal time and professional thoughts only for when you are in a professional environment is one that everyone should take in and work at. Bringing unnecessary stress into the home is detrimental to any environment. However, in our current economic state, with jobs on the low, and the cost of living on such a high, such things are not always the primary concern as we all feel the need to go up and beyond that which we could feel content with previously.
This is one subject I grappled with and though it is not the end all be all, I advise that you at least consider it. I understand that at times taking work home is almost inevitable, and the stress along with that. Though it should be understood that the only person who has control over your emotions, is you, and making excuses for the way you handle those emotions gets you no where. As I’ve learned, the best way to not be stressed, is to not be stressed. This is a very effective exercise and practice, one that I still grapple with because we are all human. However if you work at it, I assure you that it will make you a lot more at ease and content, as well as making the home environment filled with a lot more joy.
Franz completes this section by saying:
“If you succeed in doing so, you will be fit for a new exercise. Let us then learn how to produce an absolute vacancy of mind. Lie down comfortable on a bed or sofa or sit in an armchair and relax your whole body. Close your eyes. Energetically dismiss any thought coming upon you. Nothing at all is allowed to happen in your mind; an absolute vacancy of mind must reign. Now hold on to this stage of vacancy without digressing or forgetting. At first, you will manage to do so for only a few seconds, but by practicing it more often you will surely succeed better at it. The purpose of the exercise will be attained if you succeed in remaining in this state for a full 10 minutes without losing your self-control or even falling asleep.”
- Franz Bardon, “Initiation into Hermetics”, Practical Exercises, Step #1
All of these exercises take time, and thus patience is a must. As I’ve stated before, rushing through will get you no where fast, but if you work at it diligently and often, you will be sure to see results. The above exercises are only the first of many listed in the book. I considered listing more in depth exercises presented within it, but I would rather you read through the book yourself for knowledge’s sake. For the best results you should follow everything mentioned as it is mentioned, as in, take the time to do things as they should be done, and don’t cheat yourself.
Relaxation by Distracting the Mind
Most find it easier to focus and concentrate on a subject when they are fully relaxed. It is often difficult, however, to relax fully when your mind is wandering about, which is more likely to happen when whatever task you are attempting to perform, be it driving to work or meditation, becomes that of habit and quite trivial. The more you do something the easier it becomes to do without constant focus and attention. The same reason why as young children we learn to ride a bike while focusing tentatively on not falling, and peddling. But as we grow accustomed to riding the bike, we are able to do so when eating, talking, thinking about other things, etc… Thus, clearing our heads becomes more important and harder with other tasks. Unlike the above exercises, the one I’m going to explain are fairly simple and can be done on any moments notice to clear your head and allow you to relax and concentrate.
Deep Breathing and Counting Backwards
It’s no surprise that breathing deeply allows you to relax, but by counting backwards you are able to distract your usually active mind, with a task that is rarely performed. Start by taking in two deep breaths, on the third you begin with the number 10 (or 100, doesn’t really matter) and begin counting backwards with every inhalation and exhalation. As in, inhale-10 exhale-9, etc…
Do this until you have made it to zero. For the more mathematically astute individuals this may not suffice, and so I would suggest starting from a larger number, such as 100 and counting backwards by 3’s (inhale-100, exhale-97, inhale-94, etc…) or reciting your ABC’s in reverse.
This is not a new exercise and has been around in different variations for a long time, mainly because it is an effective exercise and one that I have used often.
Concentration and Memory
Methods of developing concentration and memory are many, but there are none out there I know of to be more effective than the ones you can find entertainment out of. However, entertainingment is not always the answer, and so I will advise that you attempt a form of “Focal Meditation.,” which is by no accounts the end all be all of anything, it is a good exercise for concentration purposes, but all the exercises mentioned above will help you in all aspects of concentration and memory. For those still interested, there is an article on Focal Meditation that can be found at the Veritas website. There is no use in me rewriting something that is already sitting around for your viewing pleasures. That article can be found Here.
As for other means of developing the two, here are a list of websites offering games that I find to be pretty entertaining, as well as challenging and should help you to develop your concentration and memory by challenging you:
It should be made note of that the brain has a tendency to rewire itself, any new activity or ritual that is done in a different manor, perhaps taking a different route to work, or putting your pants on the opposite leg first, forces your brain into essentially “rewiring” to make way for different mechnisisms of solving problems and completing a task, giving you the ability to adapt and think on your feet, basically helping your problem solving skills, making you a more intelligent person.
*This post is one that I will try my best to continually edit, as opposed to making various posts about the same general thing.*
For the second installment of this article series I’d like to remove the focus from specific body parts as tell-tale signs of attitude, and instead, I’d like to talk about proxemics. Proxemics is, simply put, the study of animal behavior in regard to spatial relationships. This field of study spans the disciplines of psychology, sociology, and anthropology since it reveals a wealth of information about how organisms interact with one another.
How many of you pay attention to how close a person is standing or sitting when you interact with them? Do they seem to keep a safe distance away, or do they stand close enough for you to smell their breath? We all have these odd rules of engagement when it comes to interpersonal distance; let’s find out why.
We have an incredible sense of spatial relationships. This is the mechanism that allows us to maneuver cars, throw basketballs, and generally judge distances between multiple points of reference. It also allows us to project an invisible perimeter around our bodies that we can monitor with relative ease. This perimeter is metered by sub-zones that indicate the level of intimacy we have with a person who is within the individual zones. For example, if we feel comfortable speaking to someone only when they are at least six-feet away, then we are not very intimate with them, and probably do not know them very well. On the other hand, if we feel comfortable speaking to them while they are a foot away, then we are very intimate with them.
The closer a person can stand or sit near you during interaction; the more it shows that you trust them and that they trust you. When we take this concept to the extremes, it becomes very obvious since the closest physical contact that two people can have is sexual intercourse, which by its very nature is an activity that requires a tremendous amount of trust on behalf of both partners, and a situation where two individuals negate all trust for each other, such as in a combat situation, is marked by attempts to increase the distance between the two individuals.
Many resources about body language will present generalized rules for distances, such as a distance of three to six feet representing one tier of intimacy while six to twelve represents another. I would rather not attempt to map out this invisible perimeter since it is different for each person in accordance with their personality. What is “too close” for one may be “too far” for another. Instead, I would rather you focus on the simple maxim that “closer is more trust, farther is less trust.
Closeness, Physiological Arousal, and Anxiety
To fully understand proxemics, we have to understand what occurs internally, and why, when we are in close proximity with one another. When we encounter a stranger our bodies are primed for the “flight or fight” response. Our heart rate increase as does our blood pressure, and we may even release some adrenaline. This is, no doubt, an evolved psychological mechanism passed down from our ancestors to ensure our survival in situations where we encounter a strange animal or person that may want to attack and kill us. If this worst case scenario comes true, then we are already prepared to run fast and hard in the other direction, or fight with an enhanced strength.
In modern times this worst case scenario rarely manifests. It’s not often that we have to karate-chop someone we’ve just met, or in general, someone who stands too close to us. Regardless, we still feel anxiety for the same reasons. It is this anxiety that will propel a person away from another if they do not feel a prerequisite amount of trust or intimacy.
It is important that we consider other sources of anxiety. If the source of anxiety that determines interpersonal distance stems solely from the knowledge of whether or not someone will attack us, then any two people on a first-name basis should be able to interact while being intimately close to one another. This is not the case, and this is why interpersonal distance is a powerful indicator of attitude. If a person has apprehensions about you, then they will have anxiety. If they have anxiety, then they will keep their distance from you.
I’d like to go off on a brief tangent and talk about some wider implications for the theory of proxemics. Since a lack of interpersonal space can cause this form of anxiety and “flight or fight” response, many sociologists and psychologists argue that it can explain certain phenomenon such as mob mentalities during riots, violence in overcrowded prisons, and violence in overpopulated areas. As much as we are social creatures by nature, it’s quite clear that we certainly require a certain amount of physical space.
One of the most notable uses of proxemics is in interrogations. Often police, military, or whoever will crowd the person they are interrogating. They will sit very close leaving them no personal space. This creates an enormous amount of anxiety in the interrogatee, and compounded with other stessors, the interrogatee will crack, confess, or slip up in some manner. This is obviously an exploit in human behavior, something that I don’t want you, dear readers, to use unless the situation warrants.
Instead of using proxemics as an active method of information retrieval, I’d rather you use it as a passive method, which is simply done by observing behavior rather than trying to force it. You can monitor how a person moves toward and away from you during a conversation. If you make a comment, and you notice the individual step backward, then you probably said something he or she doesn’t agree with. If throughout the course of your conversation, he or she slowly inches closer and closer, it’s a sure sign that they’re becoming more comfortable with you, and the likelihood for intimacy is increasing.
I’d like to talk about personality and cultural differences in the context of proxemics. Each person has a unique upbringing that determines their “rules of engagement”, which I had cited before as a reason why I would not present a standard of distances and their respective levels of intimacy. If an individual grows up in a household with ten siblings in a cramped apartment, then chances are they will have a very different conception of “too close” and “too far” when compared to someone who was an only child reared in a large mansion. The former will find that talking with a person who is six feet away is very cold and impersonal, while the latter may find that this distance is suitable.
In addition, there are certain cultural norms that may be a factor in proxemics. Westernized societies, such as America and Britain, have an attitude of “farther rather than closer” for interaction. In Japanese society, respect for interpersonal distance is paramount and therefore distances are usually larger than those in other countries. Citizens in Greece and Italy, however, stand much closer and, in some Arabic countries, if you’re not standing close enough for the other person to smell your breath during a conversation, you’re being rude.