Concentration Fixation Limitation via Meditation?

by phil on Wednesday Oct 1, 2003 11:10 PM

One of the methods suggested for getting into meditation is to sit still and fixate your attention on your breathing. Although it sounds easy, it is no simple task. Especially for hyperactive ppl like me, I can't fixate myself for long. However, once you strike the right chord, something interesting happens, and this is where I think we get all the Voodoo Schmoodoo that comes from ppl's experiences with meditation.

Initially, I tried just listening to my breath. However, one finds shortly that you can't keep making audible huffing and puffing sounds before getting dizzy and light-headed.

Next I tried imagining or paying attention to the inhaling and exhaling process. Initially I'd manage to focus one part in every five or so breaths, with the remainder of my attention wandering to other thoughts. The problem was I'd initate a fixation on inhaling or exhaling, but only on the concept. Awareness of the concept would only last a second, and then my mind would drift.

So for my first two or three 30-min. meditation sessions, I was just kinda calm and motionless in the dark. Now, this is nowhere near the ideal "peace-of-mind" that true meditation I assume requires, but the experience was profound nonetheless. My first time making an earnest attempt at inner peace left me in a breezy calm for 3-4 hours after the meditation until I went to bed. I can compare it to being high.

Anyways, back to my method.

Eventually, these discrete fixations morphed into more continuous attentions. I'd spontaneously initiate a fixation on inhaling or exhaling, and then I'd follow my fixation throughout a part of the process. So consider this watching the faucet run rather than just watching you turn it on. This had a major impact because for those few moments my mind would be totally flushed, and I'd be consumed with the monitoring of my breath.

In the later parts of my 30 min. medititations, I'd slowly get into a zone, where my continuous fixations would become more frequent and lengthier, getting me into deeper levels of peace and calm.

On my sixth attempt came another break-through. Those short, separated fixations managed to connect and link up. I was eventally able to maintain concentration on inhalation, then pause, and then exhalation. The key was to focus on each individual part of the process as important. So I'd fixate on the initial sucking of air, and then onto the expansion of my chest, then to the tapering off. The connection came then as I was fixating on neither the inhalation nor the exhalation, but the pause in-between. this connected the exhaling and inhaling as one continous cycle.

However, I was only able to do this for two or three legs, i.e. one inhales in-between two exhales. Then I tried really hard to bring the number of legs up, and that's when I felt my mind start to break.

True concentration on the breathing for more than 3 seconds would inadvertently close my eyes because I'd feel the need to take in the visual scene. If I kept my eyes open while fixating on my breath, my eyes would involuntarily start moving rapidly to distort the visual scene.

Then with closing my eyes, when I'd hold a long fixation, I'd feel a gust of thoughts burst onto the scene trying to break my solid hold on the breathing process.

I couldn't hold back the tide in my most recent session. My feeling is that doing so would truly empty your mind; my guess is that that is when all the cool stuff starts happening, transcendance and the like.

I also found it as an interesting insight, possibly, into how we think, in that there's a natural limit on how long your brain will let you exclude all other thought processes in exchange for one. I also wonder what happens neurologically when you occupy only one thought. Maybe you start to hallucinate like what happens to ppl who do those marathon prayer sessions.

Anyways, we'll see.

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