Drift Awareness Technique for Brain Development
I can honestly say that once I began seriously meditating in my early twenties, my brain changed enormously for the better, with impersonal intelligence and awareness becoming swifter, sharper and more potent. As a child, granted I did not care for school or studies, and although my Mom may say otherwise, I was ranked near the bottom of my class. So what changed for me later in life with regard to the capacity of my brain power can be almost wholly attributed to Real Meditation.
But before jumping into this particular Meditation Technique, which I have found to be superb for brain development, I would to expand a bit on what I mean by brain power. So here I am not just referring to the cleverness of thought, although logical thinking will improve and there will be clarity of thought, by brain power here I am referring to pure Intelligence and Awareness.
Intelligence being the power of unadulterated comprehension through direct perception, and awareness being the capacity to observe even the slightest movement of thoughts. This combination is the true reflection of a fully functioning and healthy brain, and this combination is what will take you from darkness to Light. This kind of a brain is capable of Insight.
Meditation Technique for Brain Power
Beginner Meditation Technique: Identify Mental Drift Using Breath
Duration: 20 minutes
- Find a quiet place and sit in a comfortable cross legged position. If using a zafu or meditation cushion, sit on the forward third of the cushion. The objective is for your hips to be raised above your knees and to form a three point base with your knees and buttocks touching the floor/cushion. It is also fine to sit up on a chair or to use a meditation bench. If you promise not to fall asleep, you may also do this meditation lying down :-) .
- Set your alarm or tell Alexa to set a timer for 20 minutes :-).
- Now elongate your spine upwards and to align it with the back of your head, subtly bring your chin back and in like a soldier at attention.
- Find a nice balanced posture you can hold without moving and close your eyes. You can place your hands in any mudra/position you prefer. My suggestion would be drone mudra, gyan mudra or cosmic mudra if you are familiar.
- Take 5 deep, slow breaths though the nose. This will relax you and start to slow down your mind.
- Now bring you attention to your breath without trying to manipulate it further in any way, just become aware of its flow. Spend a few minutes just observing it intimately till it starts to become regular and relaxed.
- The Drift Technique:
- At this point begin counting your breath. Count an inhalation as one, then the exhalation as 2 and continue to count your breaths until you reach 10. At which point return to 1 with the next inhalation. What may (probably :-) happen as you practice this is that at some point your mind will start to drift. A thought will come in which will capture your attention and you will lose your count or be counting unconsciously, and be caught up in the story line spun by that thought.
- Although your brain power is already going to be increasing simply from being mindful of your breathing the real work here has to do with how you are going to approach the drift. It is here that the meditation starts to further develop your mental capacity.
- When you catch yourself drifting, stop your counting and trace back your drift to the thought that triggered it and got you entangled. Putting this demand on your brain does 2 things. First, it raises the intensity of your focus for if you drift for too long you will not be able to find the originating thought, and second since you have to trace the drift all the way back it challenges the brain to recall each thought and the associated threads, which is better than any puzzle you can give it.
- When you are able to trace any drift in 20 minutes of meditation, you are ready for the Intermediate Level.
Intermediate Brain Development Technique: 30 minutes
- Once you have mastered the tracking of drift using breath as an anchor you can now begin the ultimate challenge of observing and comprehending thoughts from moment to moment using direct perception. This method has been described in detail in the following chapters and videos on advanced meditation, so please review them for details, but essentially, you are to bring all your energy to watching the mind and directly comprehending each thought as it rises without missing on the subsequent thought.
- This is not complex, but it is arduous and will require your brain to be wholly alive and tremendously sensitive. You will require all your energy, attention and intelligence to do this, but in doing this practice you will be developing a brain that is simply excellent.
- Now even as you practice this technique, there will be drift you get caught up in. And again you need to trace back the drift to the originating thought, before returning to comprehending the mind.
- TIP: As the mind is going to be very fast initially, you should practice the beginner’s technique for the first 5 minutes and after thoughts settle down, you should switch to the direct comprehension of the thoughts as they occur.
Advanced Brain Development Technique: 60 minutes
- The only difference between the intermediate technique and advanced technique is the length of the meditation. As you start to take up this practice seriously, you will notice that it takes a bit of time for the mind to slow down and for you to start “digesting” thoughts. In Zen Meditation there is a state called “Big Mind” and this is along the lines of where you will need to be so there is a gap between you and your thoughts, so thoughts can be seen clearly and comprehended immediately.
- So after you are able to generate the energy for 30 minutes, you are ready to extend your practice to 1 hour. Again keep in mind you must identify any drift and trace to the origin. This agreement, will encourage the mind not to stray and will also continue to challenge the recall capabilities of the brain.
Tips for Advanced Meditation
- Keep your eyeballs still when watching and comprehending your thoughts. This will help the mind be more quiet.
- Your breath will suspend when you are actively “digesting” each thought. This is normal. The next breath will come when needed, but your breathing will at minimum be very slow and fine.
- You will likely enter enlightened states during the advanced practice, enjoy but don’t expect.
- There will an urge from time to time to get up and return to active life, during this time be tenacious and sit through that urge. It will pass.
- Sadness or other emotions may release as the conscious mind relaxes. Allow them to express themselves and then let them go. If you get very overwhelmed, back off and slow down. Again trace any drifts, even if they have emotional components (which you will soon realize is the most common reason for the drift in the first place).
Summary for Meditation for Brain Development
The technique of being alert to the mind drifting is an excellent method for keeping the brain awake and vigilant so regardless of if you are doing the beginner’s or advanced technique you will certainly be developing your brain capacity and awareness.
An extension of this practice is to maintain this drift awareness throughout your day, which will not just further sharpen your mental faculties, but will also bring you into the NOW, which is where all life happens.