Life is not an accident. It may sound cliché, but “everything DOES happen for a reason.” I believe this to be true, and I see that our reason or purpose for existence is to learn.
Since I was a young child, I have always loved to learn new things. An excitement would flood my being and my eyes would glow with curiosity. Although the desire to learn was in my heart and intentions, a pattern soon arrived. I would begin a swimming lesson, and soon after quit. I would attend a tumbling class or two, then quit. Same goes for piano, guitar, soccer, basketball, volleyball, diving, dance… the list goes on! Was it the lack of desire for each of these growth-filled and fun sports? I have a trusted feeling that it was not.
A similar pattern was seen in my formal education. I would express curiosity and a joy of learning with most every subject taught in school, yet would easily lose interest and would move my attention into my imagination. This pattern resulted in low test scores, poor grades, and even led to the concerns of my teachers and my parents — that I may have had ADHD. Although my parents were aware of this concern, I was not made aware of this until my senior year of college.
While earning my bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois, this lack of concentration pervaded most of my experiences, whether in class, extra curricular activities, group projects, or social interactions. Some of the byproducts of this lack of concentration resulted in low self-esteem, insecurities, over-thinking, and a doubt of my abilities.
I had a few friends who had prescriptions for Adderall, a combination medication that is used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. I eventually began taking doses of this medication to keep my attention focused while completing assignments for school. In the beginning, I loved the feeling of being able to concentrate and study material for 5 to 6 hours at a time. Yet, in addition to the laser-focused attention came little to no appetite, poor sleep patterns, sometimes sleepless nights, heightened emotions, and physical shaking within my body. I knew that this could not be healthy for my natural flow and energy within my mind and body, but I felt desperate.
Every spring, the University hosts a health fair, inviting all kinds of healing, from traditional, to holistic, to pure well-being. I was led to a table where a woman stood, representing the School of Metaphysics and interpreting dreams. I was intrigued by this woman’s love for dreams, so I gave her my contact information and walked away. Little did I know that this moment would forge a whole new vision for myself at a later date.
It was approaching the end of summer, and I received an unexpected call; it was a woman inviting me to a new class in Applied Metaphysics at the School of Metaphysics. I said yes and told her that I would be there. Not knowing a thing about metaphysics — or even what the word meant — I still felt an urge to go to this class.
At the first night of class, all of the students were told that if we remained disciplined and consistent with the practices taught in the course of study, we could expect an expansion of our awareness, deeper relationships, greater self understanding, improved grades, and an improved image of self. Although I knew very little of what I was getting myself into, I continued to come to class every week, week after week.
We received teachings and exercises intended to aid us in our ability to concentrate that we were asked to practice everyday. I noticed improvement within my grades, I noticed improvement within my ability to communicate with my friends and peers, and I saw myself changing for the better. The simple skill of concentration not only aided me in earning better grades for myself, it also enhanced my ability to direct my attention where I wanted to.
Through the practice and application of concentration on anything we desire, we build a discipline within the mind. It is the practice of concentration that has aided me to still my thoughts to receive guidance from my inner self, to relax the body at will, to perceive the need in my experiences, and — most of all– to understand the purpose of my existence. With constant practice of concentration exercises, breathing techniques, and stilling of the thoughts, anyone can build a greater knowledge of who they are and why they are here. This experience in the world is here for us to learn who we are, how we are creating, and to experience the joy and bliss of an awakened consciousness.
Concentration is a powerful tool in gaining self-awareness and achieving goals for yourself. Through the use of concentration, all of our attention can be directed to a single point. If we lack the ability to concentrate, we allow our mind to wander aimlessly. As we learn to concentrate, we learn to direct our thoughts to a state of well-being. Our thoughts influence our well-being and health. The more directed our thoughts are toward health, healing, and wholeness, the more those aspects in our life will be enhanced. This is true for most anything in our experiences. What we give our attention to grows. The more attention we give to the plants in our garden or house, the more the plants thrive and grow. This is the same for our quality of thoughts. When we give attention to our goals and desired way of living with deep concentration, our desires manifest, and we can know and understand the power held within our mind.
An exercise in concentration on a daily basis can change your life. Here is a practice that you can endeavor if you choose:
1. Sit relaxed in a straight back chair. Taking deep breaths will help you to relax and release tension held in the body.
2. Hold a pencil to eye level and about 10 inches away from the face. Placing a pillow underneath the arm may be helpful.
3. Gaze at the sharpened tip of the pencil for 10 minutes. A gaze is gentle and relaxed. Your eyes may cross, and that is natural. Intensely staring at the pencil tip may cause some strain in the eyes, so just softly gaze.
4. Your physical eyes as well as your mental attention should be given to the tip of the pencil. Anytime you notice your thoughts drifting to anything outside of the present moment of you and the pencil, guide yourself back to your point of focus. Every time you bring your attention back, you are building self-direction.
5. Practice this everyday for 10 weeks, 10 minutes a day and you will notice a shift in your consciousness.
Archive for the ‘Guest Post’ Category
The Power of Conscious Emotion
by Jorge Candelaria
Some people want to improve their lives, but they don’t want to do anything differently. They are addicted to their way of being. To improve one’s life and make the difference on the planet requires trying different ways of being. Sometimes it requires challenge and sacrifice, but sometimes it’s just about enjoying the journey.
It has been six years since I started my journey to know myself. I had no idea at that time where I was going to end up, and that allowed me the freedom to have new experiences and to be different, From my heart I knew that there had to be something more out there because nothing that I was doing was fulfilling me.
Some parts of the journey have felt like a struggle, and in other parts I am reaping the fruit of my efforts. The first step in my journey was exploring discipline, and I experienced how powerful it was. I learned the influence of discipline on my feelings and emotions, and I started to understand my environment at a deeper level. I also became aware of other people’s behavior around me and the influence of our thoughts and our choices on each other and each other’s behavior.
I fell in love with discipline, meditation, and spiritual exercises, that allows me to be in the present moment and get me closer and closer to have a quiet mind. I started practicing self-observation and objectivity with my thought; this process allowed me to discover all the baggage that I needed to change or get rid of. At some points I was face-to-face with anger, self-pity, and sorrow. Sometimes I reacted, blamed, and complained, blending all of those emotions. In those moments I realized the effect of discipline and commitment in the process of spiritual development, in being able to see how I was actually creating my reality. I also observed past patterns of thinking, including coping mechanisms I used to hide myself in, using unproductive habits like overworking or excessive internet use when things got tough. Then instead I started developing ways that I could be in those challenging emotions, experiencing them. I observed myself in the present moment, observed how I was creating the experience. I could then see if the feeling was habitual, an addictive behavior that was that an unconscious reaction to the experience. In that process, I learned that I had so many wounds that I needed to heal, like blaming other for triggering a negative emotion. I realized it was something that I learned at home when I was little. Through this process I began to discover and trace how I developed my personality, and how I became who I am.
I also started to observe the usefulness of discipline to consciously create in my life. This is something that I have always enjoyed. I see the benefits of discipline in creating a business and focusing on one direction without the hassle of the standard ways of marketing, just maintaining the positive and direct thoughts of serving and loving what I do.
The objectivity and mindfulness I have developed has helped me stay conscious in my work. The unconscious habit that I catch myself in is thinking that just working harder is going to help me to solve a problem in the business, in my life or in being ‘productive.’ I think I am going to fill some emptiness. In those moments I now stop and look for what I am avoiding, what problem or what emotion I need to face.
In the journey of breaking my addictive behavior, I have found that the most important thing is to experience a deeper understanding of love. I am looking to receive all new people in my life into my heart, to experience divine friendship. Also, just as importantly, I look to experience and practice self love.