- Education and Science
Good Concentration - Thinking about thinking
How good is your concentration?
Think about it! There are many of us who think we have good powers of concentration, that we are "creative thinkers." But let us not delude ourselves. We create nothing. What we do is receive, process and modify the thought that already exists. Now that is something to think about, isn't it!
The original thinker is a man or woman whose mind is absolutely quiet
The original thinker is not the person who writes treatises on philosophy, or 'goes outside the square' with De Bono's 'Lateral Thinking.' Not so. The original thinker is a man or woman whose thinking processes are absolutely quiet, and under the control of their will. The person who can then, by an act of that will, select as yet unmanifested knowledge and direct it towards a particular goal, i.e. "bring down from a higher realm of thought" a truly original concept which is not already extant in the vast oceans of thought matter with which we are surrounded. It is he or she who can then convert that concept , via normal means of a good vocabulary, into something which can be recorded and understood by us lesser mortals.
Good Concentration ? But I can concentrate !
Let us now consider concentration.
"But I can concentrate!" the writer hears you say. But can you? And if you can, is it voluntary or involuntary concentration? The second is hardly a sign of a controlled or stable mind. Yet it is concentration of this latter type most of us indulge in.
What is meant by involuntary concentration? Let us take an example or two:
You are in a bank withdrawing some savings when a bandit bursts through the door brandishing a sawn-off twelve gauge shotgun. He points it at you. Now, at this very instant your concentration could hardly be greater! You are completely with the here and now. You are concentrated!
Thinking about Thinking - Interest and Concentration
Let us take a less dramatic case You pick up a book on your favourite subject from the library and you open it to read. You are absolutely engrossed. The words are hardly words; they are images, pictures! You skip through the book savouring the message being given. You are concentrated. But it is involuntary in that it is led by your interest, an interest preceded by earlier learning and other assciated interests which gave you pleasure, some subconscious sensation which impelled you towards the experience.
The real test of how good your concentration is, is when you have to concentrate on something which has no interest for you at all. Something absolutely boring!
But I can concentrate - willed concentration - the Real Test
In thinking about thinking, how long could you concentrate on a book written in a language you could not decypher? How long could you concentrate on a dot on the wall? Most people cannot concentratre on the sweep-hand of a wrist-watch for half a minute. Long before thirty seconds have elapsed their grasshopper minds have switched attention to another, then another subject or issue. Most of us are like that.
So let us not kid ourselves that our concentration is good. Generally it isn't. Yet this subject is very important. For until we get our thinking directly under the control of our will, we are not masters of our own fate. At least, at the conscious level.
Your Concentration - To Sum Up
So if we really want to become creators, thinkers, and have our destinies a little more under our personal control, then we must set about the task of disciplining our thought. It isn't easy. It takes a long, long time. But, as the Ancient Chinese sage, Confucius, purportedly said:
"A journey of a thousand miles begins with just one step."
Mindfulness improves from the moment we get started. And we need to heed this. For of all of life's goals, this is certainly one, if not the most important of all our undertakings.
I wish you well.
Oh, and I hope you enjoyed reading Good Concentration - Thinking About Thinking.
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