In teaching you How to See Yourself As You Really Are, The Dalai Lama emphasizes the importance of two vital capacities.
“In all areas of spiritual development, you need both analysis and focus” – The Dalai Lama
The maintenance of these two aptitudes makes the difference between a wishy-washy half-assed existence and one bursting with power, strength and meaning.
They are to analyze and to remain focused.
Analysis and Focus
The Dalai Lama writes:
“In all areas of spiritual development, you need both analysis and focus to achieve the states you are seeking, ranging from a better future… to developing an intention to leave the round of suffering called cyclic existence.
“All these improvements are made in the mind by changing how you think, transforming your outlook.”
However, how do we achieve such commitment to analysis and focus?
Anyone who has attempted to spend a day in pure mindfulness will know that they are confronted with a great many difficulties in maintaining the inner spiritual state.
Daydreaming, ego-based identifications, debates, television, sports games and many more things serve to discombobulate your inner stillness and drag you to identification with an externally derived identity.
It feels that the discipline required is simply too great.
This feeling is dangerous as it not only creates a mental association of mindful focus being laborious, but it also makes you unenthusiastic regarding meditation.
The Dalai Lama has a method to deal with this.
Overcome Procrastination via Reframing
“Contemplation of the advantages of attaining mental and physical flexibility will generate enthusiasm for meditation and counteract laziness.
“Once you have developed the meditative joy and bliss of mental and physical flexibility, you will be able to stay in meditation for as long as you want.
“At that time your mind will be completely trained so you can direct it to any virtuous activity; all dysfunctions of the body and mind will have been cleared away.”
So, in essence, to combat your inner complacency, envision the deep beauty you are on the verge of, and allow yourself to believe in the person you are soon to become.
This method is extremely powerful for the man seeking to grow.
We simply must orient our thinking to high, lofty and incredible aims.
This is not so we faultlessly achieve these aims, but that we progress in the right direction and ensure we are not falling in the wrong one.
Making the decision to view the inevitable positives of our actions is self-progression in action at its most core level.
Yet you still need to ensure your foundations are solid.
Morals and Moderation
The Dalia Lama has commented on our fear of a moral life:
“People look on vows of morality as confinement or punishment, but that’s entirely wrong.
“Just as we take up a diet to improve our health and not to punish ourselves, so the rules that the Buddha laid down are aimed at controlling counterproductive behavior and overcoming afflictive emotions because these are ruinous.
“For our own sakes, we restrain motivations and deeds that would produce suffering.”
People are afraid of morality.
Are you? If so, why?
It may be worth taking a few minutes to consider that question.
Whether it’s because of poor spiritual teaching in the past that has led you to believe you are bad, or a fear of your own conscience keeping a tally on the behaviors you’d rather steer clear from, the reality is that you, like all other well human beings, have a conscience.
We have made the conscience something of a specter in our contemporary lives.
Religion is oft seen as obsolete in the West, while New Age spirituality puts little, if any, emphasis on it.
Yet it still exists in all of us.
It is something you have to confront if you want a mind capable of stillness, focus and peace.
I have written before of the importance of honesty and authenticity in spiritual growth.
The notion that you are as ‘sick as your secrets’ is true, and to stand together as one with other men you must not fear judgment and allow yourself to be loved.
Just as you should seek to love others and not judge for maximum internal clarity and peace.
As The Dalai Lama articulated, a moral life is merely a life of moderation.
It does not mean I never have unhealthy food, but that I strive to maintain a healthy lifestyle on the whole.
Ergo, aiming for a moral life does not mean you never make mistakes, but seek to rectify said mistakes when you can and maintain an overall life of kindness.
Posture and Breathing
Now you have the fundamentals in place, you can move onto the specific practice of focussing your mind: meditation.
The Dalai Lama recommends 7 steps to perfect posture:
- Sit on a cushion with crossed legs
- All but close your eyes and focus on the end of your nose
- Straighten your backbone
- Keep shoulders level and hands in lap, palms up (right over left)
- Keep your head straight
- Keep your tongue at the roof of the mouth, touching the back of the teeth
- Breathe in and out quietly, evenly and gently
He also recommends that while breathing one should inhale deeply through the nostrils and then exhale via the nostrils also.
You should aim to do this three times for a total of nine breaths.
Your breath is all you need focus on, saying to yourself ‘I am inhaling’ on the inhale, and ‘I am exhaling’ for the exhale.
By following the above outline for a week your abilities of concentration, emotional control and mental focus will dramatically increase.