Recipe for Concentration
by Leonardo Gonzalez [lion@MIT.edu]
Posted on the extropians list Wed, 20 May 1998 20:46:17 -0700.
You don't have to shave your head, take a vow to celibacy, or change your
religion to practice meditation. Entrance yourself with sound, something
quiet and subtle that will pull at your attention and fill your senses with
serenity (I like the sound of running water). Find a position that you can
be in indefinitely without much discomfort or disruption of circulation to
your limbs. Pay attention to your breathing and establish a comfortable
rhythm. Empty your mind of the numerous thoughts flying about, and let
your sensory experience engulf your mind. Tel your muscles to relax.
Focus on your breathing; let it become the only thing you think of. This
can paradoxically seem both impossible, and the easiest thing you could
possibly do. Remain focused, lest you fall asleep.
It's easy to stray off the path. You can prepare yourself by having
directions that will take you from wherever you back to where you need to
be. For example, if you need to write a research paper, make a list of
things you need to do (locate sources, read sources, extract excerpts,
create outline, formulate thesis, etc.). Whenever you find yourself doing
something that is not productive (read email, IRC, random WWW browsing,
picking dirt off fingernails, etc.), go over your list of things to do and
put yourself back on track. Done often enough, this process could become
Concentration requires being in a certain state of consciousness
continuously for the desired amount of time. Music has a powerful effect
on consciousness. Listen to any type of music that helps you be in
whatever state you need to be in. If fast thinking is required, fast music
is appropiate. If repetitive processes are required, repetitive music is
optimal. If possible, make a CD or tape of the required music and put it
on an endless loop...
Drugs are cool. I am, therefore I think. Caffeine will skyrocket you into
frenzied chaos, but will leave you too scattered to keep your wits. In
proper amounts, however, it is beneficial. I thoroughly enjoy a little bit
of chai when I want to be alert. I am trying out piracetam, finding it
makes me acutely aware of blood flow inside my brain (or the illusion
thereof). Supplements I recommend: acetylcholine precursors (phosphatidyl
choline), Vitamins B (all of 'em), C, & E, Gotu Kola, Gingko Biloba, and
DHA (http://www.bio.com/home/martek/neuromins.html). Of course, it helps
to have a healthy diet with fruits, vegetables, and grains. I have heard
great things of Hydergine, and am waiting for mine in the mail. Ginseng is
great, but it is said that it's best not to waste it on one's youth.
Tell yourself you will never give up, and you will take yourself more
seriously. I once struggled trying to learn a piano piece for 3 hours
straight. It was frustrating at first, but it got easier once my brain
realized I meant serious business and was not going to leave the piano for
a few hours. The temptation of scrapping it all and doing something else
is severe, especially if the task at hand is challenging. Having infinite
patience is difficult, yet simple if one keeps one's priorities straight.
One of my favorite original quotes: "The more patience you have, the less
patience you'll need."
hope this helps,