One of the most important things we can do if we want to deepen our inner development, is working on our own self-knowledge, and one of the most important steps is the power of self-control and to have a total domain over what takes place in our head, referring to the control and discipline of our thoughts.
A hodgepodge of ideas
When one begins to meditate, the more common problem is that there is no way to avoid the tons of ideas, thoughts, images, songs and reminders about things we have to do, etc., they rapidly accumulate one after another in our head. We try to keep the concentration on breath and after 10 seconds we are projecting in our mind, without being aware of it, the image of the supermarket where we have to go in the afternoon to buy food and what we should not forget to buy. Then suddenly a song appears in the background, who is singing inside of me making me get distracted? One thought leads to another and images thread occurs and just three minutes after we have returned to being aware of our breathing we realize that we have been completely absent from the meditative process and completely dominated by our automatic programs process and mental forms that, once more, are subtly causing trouble.
So one of the first things is learning how to master the mind, and for this purpose I suggest several simple exercises, which, making them with perseverance can provide a number of impressive benefits in the mastery of one’s self.
Awakening the observer
The first exercise lie in making a small meditation and observe our thoughts, be aware of what is coming to us at all time as if we were seeing it from another side. We have to keep track of everything that is coming to our head: now I’m thinking about my work, I can see my office, now I jump to tomorrow’s meeting; I have to finish the report, the evening dinner… I have to remember to go shopping…
The idea is to be aware of everything that goes through our head without getting involved. When we’ll be able to be from 5 to 10 minutes observing these thoughts without losing control of the storyline, we can move on to the next exercise, because we are in the position of having awaken our inner “observer”, our inner awareness which is able of perceiving what happens in oneself..
Concentration or fixation of one single thought
The next exercise of mind control is to be able to fix the mind in only one of those thoughts, to block the rest and to maintain absolute control and absolute concentration on one thing for at least 5 uninterrupted minutes. I like to use a symbol that I invent myself, not a real thing that can bring me associated with external references or ideas that pull on me when I get lost. This is explained quite well by Rudolf Steiner (father of Anthroposophy) in several of his books (How to know the Higher Worlds and An Outline of Esoteric Science), where he describes why without the power of concentration on a single thing at will, it is not possible to develop any kind of “inner” capacity (psychic, extrasensory, etc.). Franz Bardon, in his books on hermetic science, also places great emphasis on the need to control the mind before even attempting any exercise of control or manifestation with energies.
Block all thoughts
When the two previous exercises are already easy and when we are able to observe our mind without distracting ourselves in it, and when we are able to stay focused on a single thought, the next step of mental self-control is to block the emergence of every thinking, or so commonly called “leave the mind blank”. The power of will that develops here is essential to be able to continue with any other exercise of personal or spiritual development, because we should be able to keep our mind free of crazy ideas. At the beginning we get to set aside all thoughts for 10 seconds, with practice we reach 30 seconds, and with practice we get until one minute until we lose the concentration again and everything will be a hodgepodge of ideas and images. When we get to keep our mental screen in zero for about 5 minutes, we will have developed enough this self-control.
Each at their own pace
All personal and spiritual development should be simultaneously done by training the body, the soul and the mind to maintain the balance between the different components of our being. It is not advisable to accelerate our development, everything takes time and each of us goes at his own pace. We just have to have patience, perseverance and consistency in order to gradually progress in our own path of personal growth, having as first objective, to be able to control our own mind and decide when and how use its power to achieve our goals.