The purpose of concentration is to apply all the active forces of mind and personality upon that one thing which is being done now, and it may therefore be called the master key to all attainments and achievement. In its last analysis, the cause of all failure can be traced to the scattering of forces, and the cause of all achievement to the concentration of forces. This does not imply however, that concentration is the only essential, but it does imply that concentration must be perfect, or failure is inevitable no matter how many good methods one may employ. The ruling thought of concentration is, “This one thing I do,” and it can be stated as an absolute truth that whenever the mind works completely in the attitude of that thought, concentration is perfect.
The value of concentration is very easily illustrated by taking, for example, a wheel of twenty spokes with every spoke a pipe, and all those pipes connected with another conveying steam. The steam will thereby pass out through twenty channels. Then connect an engine with one of the pipes. That enginewill accordingly receive only one-twentieth of the steam conveyed through the wheel, while nineteen-twentieths will pass out in waste. But suppose the other nineteen pipes were plugged so that all the steam would pass out through the one pipe connected with the engine. The engine would then have twenty times as much power as before.
The average mind is quite similar to such a wheel. An enormous amount of energy is generated at the hub, so to speak, or at the vital center of mental life; but as a rule, that power passes out through a score of channels, so that the channel of action receives only a fraction of the power generated in the human system. But here we must remember that you can apply your power effectively only in one direction at a time; therefore, if all your power is to be applied in that one direction, all other channels must be closed up for the time being; or in other words, all the power of mind and thought must be concentrated where you are acting at the time.
In learning how to concentrate, it is necessary in the beginning to remember that the usual methods are of no value. You cannot develop concentration by fixing thought or attention upon some external object. Real concentration is subjective, and subjective thought is deep; that is, it acts through the deeper or interior realms of mind. When you fix your attention, however, upon some external object, like a spot on the wall, as has been suggested by some would-be instructors in this field, your thought goes out towards the surface, so that you are actually getting away from the true field of concentration. Any method, or any line of thinking that tends to draw the mind out towards the surface, will produce a superficial attitude, and when the mind is in such an attitude, deep mental action is not possible; but deep mental action is absolutely necessary in all concentration. There is no use trying to concentrate unless the action of the mind is deep. That is the first essential. In other words, the mind must go into the psychological field; the mind must act, not on the surface of things, but through the deeper life of its thought process.
To develop concentration, all that is necessary is to apply consciously those two factors that are invariably found in natural concentration. In the conscious application of these two factors, the following two methods will be found sufficient; in fact, nothing further will be required in the attainment of concentration to any degree desired.
The first method is to train the mind to act in the subjective or psychological field; in other words, cause all thinking, all feeling and all actions of thought, will and desire to become deeper and finer; in fact, deepen as far as possible all mental action. Whenever you concentrate or turn your attention upon any subject or object, try to feel deeply, try to think deeply and try to turn thought into deeper realms of feeling. The moment your mental action begins to deepen, you will find your attention directed upon the object in mind with perfect ease and with full force. Whenever you are thinking about anything, try to feel your thought getting into the vital life of that something, and wherever you turn your attention, try to feel that the force of that attention acts through your whole mind instead of simply on the surface of your mind. To state it briefly, whenever you concentrate, deepen your thought, and the deeper your thought becomes, the more perfectly will the full force of your mind and thought focus upon the point of concentration. Whatever you have to do, deepen your thought while giving that work your attention. You will find that you will thereby give all your energy to that work and this is your purpose.
The second method is to become interested in that upon which you desire to concentrate. If you are not interested in that subject or object, begin at once to look for the most interesting point of view. You will be surprised to find that no matter how uninteresting a subject may seem, the very moment you begin to look for the most interesting viewpoints of that subject, you will almost immediately become interested in that subject itself. And it is a well-known fact that whenever we are thoroughly interested in a subject, we concentrate thoroughly and naturally upon that subject.
To make concentration perfect, so that you can turn all the power of mind and thought upon any subject or object desired, these two methods should be combined. Always look for the most interesting points of view, and while you are looking for those viewpoints, deepen the action of your mind by trying to feel the real vital life of those actions. You thereby become interested in the subject on the one hand, and you make every action of the mind subjective on the other hand; and when perfect interest is combined with subjective mental action, you have perfect concentration.
The constant practice of these two methods will develop the power of concentration to such an extent that you can concentrate completely at any time and for any length of time, by simply deciding to do so; and that such an attainment is of enormous value is evident when we understand how much power there is in man, and how concentration can turn all of that power upon the one thing that is being done now.
All modern psychologists agree that there is enough power in any man to accomplish what he has in view, provided it is all constructively applied in that one direct. And when man can concentrate perfectly, he can use all of his power wherever he may choose to act. Then, if he combines scientific thinking and constructive mental action with concentration, nothing can prevent him from realizing his very highest ambition.
Another important essential in the use of the forces of mind and thought, is that of understanding suggestion and the power back of suggestion; and this becomes especially true when we realize that there is no factor or condition that we may come in contact with anywhere or under any circumstances, that does not suggest something.
To define suggestion, it may be stated that anything is a suggestion that brings into mind some thought, idea or feeling that tends to undermine some similar idea, thought or feeling that happens to be in the mind at the time. When you have certain ideas or feelings, and you meet circumstances that tend to remove those ideas or feelings, the power of suggestion is working in your mind. If your mind is in a wholesome state and an unwholesome picture removes that wholesome state by replacing something that is degrading, your mind is in the power of suggestion. If you feel joyous and some idea given to you makes your mind depressed, you are in the hands of suggestion; in fact, when anything enters your mind in such a manner as to remove certain similar or opposite states already in your mind, it exercises the power of suggestion.
It is therefore necessary to understand how this power works, so that we can take advantage of good suggestions and avoid those that are not good. The great majority are receiving all sorts of suggestions every hour, and they respond to a very large number of them; in fact, we can truthfully say that most people are controlled, most of the time, by suggestions that come to them from their environment. Those minds, however, who understand the power of thought, and who know the difference between detrimental and beneficial suggestions, can close their minds to the former and open them fully to the latter. And the method to apply is this, that whenever you are in the presence of an adverse suggestion, concentrate your attention upon some idea or mental state which you know will act as a counter suggestion; in other words, when adverse suggestion is trying to produce in your mind what you do not want, persist in suggesting to yourself what you do want. This practice, if employed frequently, will soon make you so strong in this direction that you will unconsciously, so to speak, be on your guard; in fact, the very moment that an adverse suggestion is given, your mind will spring up of its own accord with a wholesome suggestion to meet the requirements. To avoid becoming a victim to adverse suggestions–and we have such suggestions about us almost constantly–fill your mind so full of good, wholesome thoughts and suggestions that there is no room for anything else. Feel right at all times, and nothing from without can tempt you to think wrong. Make every good thought subconscious, and no adverse thought from without can possibly get into your subconscious mind at any time.
A great many suggestions do not produce results, a fact which should be perfectly understood, because every thought that we think does contain some suggestion. When we are trying to impress good thoughts upon our minds, we want the good suggestions conveyed by those thoughts to take effect, but frequently they do not, and the reason is that a suggestion takes effect only when we exercise the power that is back of suggestion. The outward suggestion itself is simply the vehicle through which another power is acting, and that other power is nothing more nor less than the real life of that idea which the suggestion intends to convey.
To simplify this matter, we will suppose that you are suggesting to yourself that you are well. The suggestion itself is simply a vehicle conveying the idea of health, but if your mind is not in touch with the interior or living force of that idea of health at the time you are giving the suggestion, you have not exercised the power back of suggestion, and the idea of health will not be conveyed to your subconscious mind. On the other hand, if you can actually feel the power of this interior idea of health when you are giving the suggestion, you are in mental touch with the power back of that suggestion, and whenever you touch the power back of suggestion you use that power. Results, therefore, will be forthcoming. To explain further, we might say that you use the power back of suggestion whenever you mentally feel that vital idea which the suggestion aims to convey. When you feel that idea, you respond to the suggestion, but when you do not feel it, you do not respond.
This explains why the power of suggestion so frequently fails, not only in every day life, but also in mental healing. When you think health, you will produce health in your system if you feel the real or interior life of health at the time. When you think harmony you will produce harmony in your system, if your mind actually goes into the soul of harmony at the time. When you place yourself in the mental world of happiness, whenever you are thinking, happiness, you will actually produce happiness in your mind, because you are applying the power that is back of the thought that suggests happiness.
Two men may present the same proposition under the same circumstances, and you will accept the proposition from the one, while ignoring the arguments of the other completely. The reason will be that while the one is talking about his proposition, the other is talking through his proposition. The mind of the one goes on the outside of his arguments and his suggestions, while the mind of the other goes through the real inner life of those arguments and suggestions. Therefore, the one is only using suggestion, while the other is also using the power back of suggestion; and it is the power back of suggestion that produces results, whenever results are secured. The same idea is illustrated when a person is speaking on a certain subject. If his description deals simply with the shell of that subject, he does not attract attention, but the moment he touches the vital or inner factors of that subject, everybody is interested. The reason is, he has touched the power back of his theme. But we all have ideas or suggestions to present at frequent intervals. Therefore, if we can use the power back of our suggestion at such times we may receive a hearing, but if we cannot, we attract little or no attention.
Thus we understand the value of knowing how to use the power back of suggestion, and we can learn to use this power by training ourselves to get into the real life of every idea and every thought that we may try to think or convey. When we try to live our ideas and thoughts, we will begin to express that interior power, and we shall succeed in living our ideas when we try to feel consciously and constantly the real life and the real truth that is contained in those ideas.
To secure the best results from the power of thought in its various modes of application, we must understand that there is something back of everything that takes form or action in life, and that it is through this something that the actions of mind should move whenever we use thought or suggestion in any manner whatever. When we are conscious only of the body of our ideas, those ideas convey no power. It is when we become conscious of the soul of those ideas that we have aroused that something within that alone produces results in the mental world. Any thought or suggestion that conveys simply the external form, invariably falls flat. There is nothing to it. It is entirely empty, and produces no impression whatever. But our ideas and suggestions become alive with the fullness of life and power when we also convey the real life or the real soul that is contained within the body of those thoughts. We have, at such times, entered the depths of mental life. We are beginning to act through undercurrents, and we are beginning to draw upon the immensity of that power that exists in the vast interior realms of our own mental world.
Say to yourself a hundred times every day and mean it with all your heart: I will become more than I am. I will achieve more and more every day because I know that I can. I will recognize only that which is good in myself; only that which is good in others; only that in all things and places that I know should live and grow. When adversity threatens I will be more determined than ever in my life to prove that I can turn all things to good account. And when those whom I have trusted seem to fail me, I will have a thousand times more faith in the honor and nobleness of man. I will think only of that which has virtue and worth. I will wish only for that which can give freedom and truth. I will expect only that which can add to the welfare of the race. I will live to live more. I will speak to give encouragement, inspiration and joy. I will work to be of service to an ever-increasing number. And in every thought, word and action my ruling desire shall be, to enrich, ennoble and beautify existence for all who come my way.