The snakes that began to move beneath my feet were black, white, and red. They coated the floor of the whole field and pulsed like they were full of electricity.
I knew I had gone deep.
The moment dragged me to my knees, and I looked up to see a huge face staring down on me.
“Hold your gaze,” it said.
That moment has stayed with me ever since. The depth I have found in those words have been immense.
Focus: The Minds Master-Key
The art of success is essentially bringing something out of your head and making it real. This is in essence an act of the mind.
Knowing how to use your mind then becomes the main priority for anyone serious in pursuit of making a dream come true.
Myself being such a person I have delved deep into the many schools of thought about the ways of the mind.
I have studied and experimented with:
- Modern psychology and Neuroscience
- Carl Jungs theories of dreams
- Buddhist Meditation
- Gnostic esotericism like Aleister Crowleys work
- Self help and practical psychology like Tony Robbins work
- Western philosophy, particularly Nietzsche
- Freuds psychosexual theory and Behaviourism
- Sports psychology
- Mythology studies like Joseph Campbell’s work
- Alan watts’ work
- Terence mckennas work
- And more I can’t recall…
All these perspectives are of course simply supplements to my own exploration, which comes from just living and being aware during intense experiences and mundane experiences.
Through all this I have knocked into one consistent and fascinating idea, which was so succinctly presented to me as: “hold your gaze”.
To demonstrate this I will ask you to do a thought experiment.
And it is simple.
As you are reading these words, there is a little voice in your head saying the words, but your mouth isn’t making any noise.
It’s fair to say that this wee little voice is familiar, we all know it’s there, and we often have trouble shutting it up.
Now, pay close attention, that little voice is engaging in a conversation. That’s right, it’s talking, but there is also something listening.
Inside your mind there is something talking, which you call “you” that is actually talking to something else inside your mind, which you also call “you”.
So there are two thing present in your mind and you are both. Creepy yes?
Well there’s more, the moment you make that observation and become aware of the listening mind, you instantly feel like that’s what you actually are.
The talking mind feels foreign and the listening mind feels like you.
it feels like you’re the one listening, which really means experiencing the talking mind’s talk.
because in truth that is what you are: “the one experiencing”.
That is what it means to be conscious.
To be aware. To experience.
To listen. To see. To feel.
Now, this “experiencing mind” is the what we’re going to talk about.
The Slings and Arrows of Outrageous Fortune
You experience a myriad of things on any given day.
Your boss might slap your ass. You might think highly of yourself. You might stare out a window. You might imagine yourself on a boat. It might start raining when you’re walking home.
You’re experiencing mind just sits back and feels, sees, and hears it all. Including your imagined thoughts. It’s like a movie.
“It’s strange how all we see and touch is changing, but the I within that watches stays the same.”
Now, a lot of our suffering comes from not being able to control what happens to us.
“Why me?!” That talking mind might say after you get kicked out of your house by rich investors.
You might start hating yourself for not being in control of everything.
But in truth you aren’t in control.
You can’t change the weather, you can’t change society, and you can’t even choose your thoughts.
But you can control what you pay attention to. You can choose what to experience.
This is you power of focus.
Through it you can begin to control many other things, but it all starts there.
The Reticular Activating Whatnow?
What you focus on determines what images, sounds and ideas that populate your mind.
If you watch a movie, afterwards your mind will use many subtle things from the film to explain your life. Or if there is a catchy tune in the film, it will swim in your head.
If you are thinking of buying a new pair of Nike shoes, you will start noticing many of them on the street.
If you doubt yourself, and tell yourself you shit a lot, you will find thousands of reasons to prove this.
There is science behind this – it’s called your reticular activating system – it’s a circuit of neurons in your brain that filters out most of the environment so you can focus on what it deems worthy of attention.
The things that it deems worthy of attention are the things you deem worthy of attention.
Careful what you feed this beast.
When you take control of your focus you determine what your reticular activating system will focus on, and that decides what your crazy talking mind will churn up and spend time figuring out.
Your brain also constantly is rewiring itself, every moment of your life.
Because your poor brain thinks your still in a jungle it is constantly trying to keep sharp and on top of things so you don’t get eaten.
When you do something your brain trusts you that this thing must be important and wires itself to be better at doing it.
This is the same for your thoughts.
What you think and do – your brain wires itself to become better at.
It has absolute no sense of quality, it simply wires itself to be good at doing exactly what you do.
Here we’ve stumbled on the secret of effective learning – correct practice.
Couple this knowledge about neuroplasticity with the reticular activating system and you get a brain that makes itself more sensitive to that which it focuses on and rebuilds itself depending on its focus.
How does what we focus on affect us?
So it’s obvious that what we focus on we sort of… become.
But the question then is, how does the things we focus on actually affect us?
Well some scientists sat down a Buddhist and hooked him up to a brain scanner.
Brain scanners detect your brainwaves.
Your brainwaves are ways your brain talks to itself.
There is always a huge mess of neurone sending messages, so the way they tune into each other is by playing music.
The neurones that are talking to each othersort of play drumbeats, and this helps them synchronise despite all the noise.
- Really low and slow beats are called Delta and your neurone mostly play this rhythm when your deep in sleep.
- Slightly faster but still slow we have theta waves which most of your neurone are tuned to when you dream.
- Next are the nice chilled alpha waves, which your brain turns on when you close your eyes and imagine or daydream.
- Then we have beta waves, which are fast and nagging. These are open eyes problem solving waves, but also cause us stress – thinknof thst talking voice when it over talks.
- Lastly we have Gamma waves which are super fast, and are associated with super learning and flowstste.
These scientists took the Buddhists and asked them to do their meditations.
When asked to relax, the Buddhist guy focused on a clear blue sky and his brainwaves instantly became alpha dominant. This skill alone would change most people’s lives, being stuck in beta waves is the cause of so much stress and anxiety.
Next the Buddhist was asked to focus on love. He focused on love for all living beings and suddenly his brain lit up with gamma waves.
He was not unique, most long term meditators could trigger this effect.
This means that by focusing on simple things like a blue sky or compassion they could relax their brains or excite it into superlearning mode.
Why is this important?
My central thesis would be that the pinnacle of all Jedi mind skills is the ability to manage your focus.
Your brain is this super badass machine that is deep and obsessive about what it thinks about, I’d wager that the higher your IQ the more you can penetrate into the object of your focus.
But this machine has no sense of what is worth figuring out. In many ways it’s subservient to you. It engages with what you show it.
This is the crux of my argument, developing your ability to control what you present to your brain is the paramount skill for all interested in dream engineering.
This is sheeer Willpower.
When your brain slips into one of its old habits of watching TV or doubting yourself, your being presented with the real test.
Can you make a choice and decide to have your brain focus on something else?
Instead of how shit your life is you can tell it to focus on how to solve your problems.
Master this ability to lead your own mind and you can skip all those leadership seminars – because all a leader does is controls the focus of a talented team.
This is the master key, and if you doubt me, check out the study they did where they tested a bunch of kids Willpower (the ability to control focus) and their IQ and then checked in on them years later.
Surprise surprise, the kids with better Willpower had huger incomes, better bodies and clearer minds. IQ seemed to be irrelevant as a determining factor to success.
This is the importance Willpower has – if your dumb, you have no excuses, Willpower is what matters – if your smart, you’re not special, Willpower is what matters.
If you feel you have no willpower – guess what – that’s bullshit.
If we believe we have limittlesd Willpower, then we tend to have much better Willpower. Never underestimate the powerf belief.
It’s all under your control.
Why is focus so effective?
To go back to the talking and listening Mind analogy – there is our mad obsessive brains that can penetrate deeply into anything we focus on, but it is the silent listening mind that can decide what that is.
Developing the ability to masterfully direct ones focus, turns you from a disorganised tribe to a ruthless Roman legion.
The deeper you can dig into a topic, the more you will learn about it, the more you will distill the principles, the more you will enter a calm flowstate
In this way focus is the first key to memory and learning, and thus performance.
A man called Erikssob has even discovered that ten years of focus is the road to mastery
As Schopenhauer said:
“Talent hits the target no one can hit. Genius hits the target no one can see.”
How Do I Improve My ABility to Focus?
There are of course many ways to improve your control of your focus, nothing quite beats choosing to believe you can, but let’s take a look at a few:
- Meditation – this is the act of sitting down for 20 Minutes and drawing your mind back to an anchor every time it drifts. I like it because it’s simple and if you are consistent it keeps on rewarding, a sure sign of the real deal.
- Goal setting – this has other names, such as visualisation, but they all operate in principle on the idea of future reward. Whenever times are tough you move your mind to the future and that act itself is the Willpower training.
- Love – there is nothing more effective at keeping you focused than a deep felt passion. This quality is what drives many long term successes. It is the genius of the heart, learn to notice it and trust it.
Where to Start?
I suggest you apply some of these simple concepts to your life. Try build a meditation habit. Work on your beliefs. Set a few goals.