This is a guest post by Carol of Straightlinemeditation.com
Better than your Guru? Seriously, take your time to read the following method designed to help you break one of the biggest barriers of meditation: the mind’s uncontrollable wandering. For those who have tried meditation or practice it regularly know this problem very well.
You might have thought or believed that Gurus have come to a point in their lives where whatever action they pursue they do it effortlessly, perfectly and successfully. You might imagine that Gurus have achieved an absolute dissolution of mind and can sit down in meditation and instantly turn their mind’s activity on or off at will. Yet even Gurus are plagued by the mind’s natural tendency to wander and drift off in daydreaming and frenzy trains of thought. I would like to propose a method that is proven to solve this age-old problem: “Feedback.”
Why Meditation Needs Feedback
Attention is the key to success in meditation. Attention makes it work. When you sit down to meditate however, even with the best intentions, the mind wanders. Attention is hard to hold on to, but why? Why is attention so hard to hold on to? The answer holds the solution!
It’s because you lose attention without knowing you are losing it. In meditation, attention slips away unseen. To a research psychologist with an interest in skill learning, the solution is obvious: meditation needs feedback.
The Feedback Solution
In meditation your aim is attention, but if you can’t see your target you can’t correct your aim. Meditation is like shooting darts blindfolded. To excel in meditation (as in darts), you need to see what you are doing. You need a way to monitor attention. Visual feedback is the solution. Where can we find it? Amazingly, it’s been right before our eyes all along, unrecognized.
I found feedback by accident while meditating with my eyes open. My attention was focused on a spot on the floor when I noticed a small halo of light flickering round it. The light was feedback – visual proof of attention – the key to self-guidance and reliable success. It works like this:
“Seeing The Light” Precision Guidance From Feedback
The light I saw had been seen before. (It’s seen with Zen’s “open gaze;” it’s reported as enlightenment.) Its origin and usefulness however, was never recognized. We missed the fact that this light is caused by attention itself.
A light sensation is produced when focused attention holds the eyes still. The steady gaze holds the image in the same place on the eyes’ retinas. Retinal fatigue follows, and with it visual distortion in the form of light.As long as you attend, you see the light. When your mind wanders however, your eyes wander and the light disappears. In this way it guides you, signaling attention and alerting you when you wander off. I let feedback guide me that day.
In under an hour I experienced the breakthrough so hard to achieve with traditional techniques. Feedback makes meditation a whole new ballgame. In place of wandering in circles there’s a straight line to success.
‘A Whole New Ballgame:’ The Feedback Advantage
With traditional methods, mind’s wandering leads to slow, or even no practice skill development. Progress is unreliable, and there’s no guaranteed return on invested time. Feedback solves these problems with ease. Here’s the how-to.
The Feedback Method How-To
Focusing discs specially designed to facilitate feedback are available online at the Straight Line Meditation site. Simply focus with a gentle gaze on the bull’s eye. Visual distortion (sensations of light) will appear, signaling attention. Shift your attention to the light. When your mind wanders, your eyes will wander and the light will vanish. That’s your signal to re-focus on the bull’s eye. Repeat this sequence, focusing on feedback as a daily practice.
Note from the editor: I would like to point out to my readers that I have not yet tried the products or methods mentioned in Carol’s article. Yet the idea and the logic behind it strikes me as smart and very plausible. I would like to give it a shot myself. I know that there is a lot of research going on in feedback methods and ever more sophisticated feedback devices are being developed. This deeply fascinates me and I wish I could create some time to dwell on this subject-matter.
As a National Science Foundation Trainee, Carol earned a Doctorate in psychology from Penn State University. She is author of STRAIGHT LINE MEDITATION with martial arts Master Deac Cataldo. Her book is available free of charge to ashrams, retreat centers and prison libraries. You can read more of Carol’s writing on meditation here