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75 year old concept made modern-Loved by Women Worldwide of the head, in the third-eye center. The third eye, or ajna chakra, can be found by placing your finger on the forehead, between the eyebrows, then taking your attention from that point into the center of the head. Sitting quietly, bring your attention to the third-eye center. Inhale, feeling the breath rising to this center. Exhale, feeling as if the breath flows downward from this center and out the nostrils. Or, you can imagine the breath coming in and out through the forehead, as if there were a nose there. Imagine a thumb-sized golden flame in this center. Imagine that, as the breath flows in and out through this center, it touches the flame and makes it glow. Let your focus on the flame be soft. Feel its golden warmth.

THE PLACE BEYOND THOUGHT Shankara, one of the great teachers of the Indian Vcdantic tradition, famously defined the true Self as "the witness of the mind." Self-inquiry practices take many forms, but their goal is to move past your concepts about yourself and bring your attention directly to that inner witness. Using the natural tendency to think as a trigger to look beyond thought, they can bring you into direct contact with your own pure awareness, the consciousncss or intelligence that is your true Self.

Begin by focusing on the flowofbreath, cool on the inhalation and warm on the exhalation. As you notice the mind wandering, ask, "What knows I'm thinking?" Then wait and notice what arises in the wake of the question. Within a few minutes, you should become aware that there is indeed a "knowing," an impersonal awareness that observes thoughts as they arise. Little by little, see ifyou can remain present to this knowingncss, the witness of your mind.

DEALING WITH DISTRACTION Whichever core practice you choose, you'll need to have strategies for working with thoughts that arise during meditation. The most basic is simply to remember to refocus. As soon as you notice that you arc thinking or spacing out, you bring your attention back to the mantra, to the breath, or to any other practice you're doing. Over and over again, you'll lose your concentration, get lost in thought or reverie. This is normal —it's been happening to every meditator since the yogis of prehistory sat in their caves. So you do what they did: Recollect what you're supposed to be doing, and comc back. Over time, you develop better focus. The Buddhist teacher Alan Wallace maintains that meditation practice is the best cure for our current epidemic of attention deficit disorder. The focus you practice in meditation will certainly improve your ability to stay with a task—any task.

Another basic strategy for dealing with thoughts is to mindfully observe them as they arise and subside, without attaching to them. Strangely enough, just noticing that you're thinking—without following the thought train—will usually dissolve the thought all by itself. Whenever you notice yourself thinking, simply say to yourself, "Thinking." Another tactic for breaking your identification with thoughts is to imagine them as clouds in the sky and see them drifting away, dispersing into the background of the mind.

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Meditation Mastery

Meditation Mastery

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