As with other yoga routines, it is important to make a habit of practicing deep concentration at regular intervals, setting aside at least one regular period for it each day. If you practise regularly, you will soon learn how to do yoga.
An excellent way to begin practice is to seat yourself in a comfortable position -- tailor fashion on the floor is recommended, but not absolutely necessary -- and look steadily at an object directly in your line of vision. Next shut your eyes and try to visualize the object clearly in the space between your eyebrows. You will find in very short order that the picture fades from your mental vision. When this happens open your eyes, refresh the impression, and try again. Keep the mental picture clear.
Concentration the last thing at night offers certain very special rewards. As you learn greater and greater mind control, you will find that you can train yourself to project your thinking into your sleep, or toward the tasks and problems of the following day. Actually what happens is that while you sleep your innermost mind continues to function and the following morning you are likely to wake with solutions to puzzling questions clear in your mind and with an added awareness of how to go about doing what should be done.
This approach, which the Yogis worked out generations ago and which a few intuitive people are forever rediscovering for themselves is today recognized by psychiatrists as a mental process on the subconscious level.
As Sigmund Freud pointed out not so very many years back for the benefit of the Western world, civilized man has buried this subconscious so deep under layers of repression and doubt that often it works against him rather than for him. The yoga method, through deep concentration, helps us make friends with it once more.
Valuable as concentration directly before sleep can be to you, it is a mistake to try practicing it if, by the time you are ready for bed, you have reached a stage of mental fatigue. This is not how to do yoga. But if you are determined to go through with it just the same, a period of relaxation should precede it.
In such a case follow the classic method: lie flat on your back, close your eyes and consciously relax each set of muscles in turn, starting with the head, neck and shoulders, going down the arms, the torso, the thighs and knees and legs, all the way into your toes.
Make your mind a blank. Soon you will feel sufficiently refreshed to proceed to the mental exercises. This approach will also contribute to deep, healthful sleep.
Tired or not, never make the mistake of trying to achieve your goal of concentration by forcing unwelcome or irrelevant thoughts sternly out of your head. Instead, deliberately substitute those thoughts which are acceptable. For example, if you are concentrating on the flame of a candle and your mind wanders away to the picture of an ordinary light bulb, and from there to the lamp on your desk and the work piled up beside it, do not shudder away from the sight -- ignore it.
Focus your mind's eye on the candle flame once more. Continue doing this until your thoughts, accepting your bidding, flow as you would have them flow. But be sure, again, to do this without identifying with the thoughts themselves: pretend to be the outsider looking on, as though what is going on inside your mind were an action on a stage. Always bear in mind the difference between you, the thinker, and the object of your thoughts.
This trick of looking inside yourself is the initial step toward becoming truly self-conscious -- conscious of the Self, that is; once you learn to separate the Self from its environment you will experience a sense of freedom and augmented strength, for then the environment, the things that are happening, the people around you, will cease to dominate your consciousness. Gone will be the need to yield to every outside demand. You will begin to cultivate the kind of detachment which will make it possible for you to be in true control of your own mind.
This is indeed an achievable goal if you practise regularly. You will then soon have learned how to do yoga.
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