Concentration and Meditation, By MLP co-founder John Bruna
One of the key components to living mindfully – is learning how to tame the unruly mind and cultivate attentional balance. In other words, we must learn how to direct our attention where we want it and hold it there. Ultimately, this is the only way to establish free will in our lives.
It is a common myth that we have such free will and use it daily. Most of our choices and reactions are triggered by an unruly mind; they are not conscious choices based in reality. If we are to have free will in our lives, we need to be present in the current moment with clarity and wisdom. Instead of having the mind drag us around from one thought or feeling to the next, we need to train the mind to serve us in the healthiest way possible.
If we observe the mind, we will notice that it tends to be either very active – ruminating, planning, reminiscing (often referred to as monkey mind) – or tired, such as when we can’t muster the energy to pay attention. These two states are often described as excitation and laxity – the mind tends to be either too excited or too lax. Rarely is it relaxed, stable and attentive. This dual tendency – excitation and laxity – is a common one that has been noted in many wisdom traditions throughout time. It is so common, in fact, that people just get used to it and accept is as a normal state of mind. While this acceptance is a pervasive human experience, in truth it is not our natural state of mind. The natural state of the mind is blissful, luminous and non-conceptual.