Re: Improving Concentration

Christian Whitaker (
Fri, 22 May 1998 12:03:16 PDT

I apologize for sending the bulk of this post twice; but I dispatched
the last one before I intended to.

>Remi Sussan <> writes:
>> I would separate meditation from relaxation although they share the
>> basis. In fact, meditation seems to be relaxation combined with a
>> level of awareness. Contrary to relaxation (which often occurs while
>> sitted on an armchair, laying on a bed eyes closed, or even on the
>> as in the yogic savasana posture), meditation includes some tension
>> which have to be maintained during the whole session : the back
>> straight, eyes open, hands or whole body in strange and hard to
>> postures, etc.

This is not true of all meditation procedures. Transcendental
Meditation is a technique which calls for no particular posture,
breathing control, or other bodily behavior. The only thing that all
meditative techniques have in common is that they are used to acheive
transcendental states, i.e., meditation is defined functionally. It's
like the definition of a chair; it may or may not have four legs, three
legs, a lower back support, any legs at all, but it is definately
something that you sit on.

>The tension is likely necessary to keep the awareness high; if it
>falters and begins to move towards relaxation (which tends to decrease
>awareness as we slip into normal rest/sleep) we get a mechanical
>response (sagging back, a sudden touch as the fingers move or the need
>to realign the posture) that alerts us to this.
In Zen monasteries, masters facilitate this process. Whenever they
observe a meditating monk is losing concentration and posture, the
master delivers a smack with a wooden stick.

>> Martial art can even be seen as medtation occuring in the
>> stressing environment of fight!

Some skilled martial artists will occasionally go into brief moments of
transcendence during combat, essentially amnesiatic fugues in which the
body carries on its tasks without conscious awareness.

>I really like the japanese idea of finding meditation potential in all
>sorts of tasks, not just traditional meditation forms but in martial
>art, everyday work or various ceremonies. I wonder if we could develop
>a form of meditation for studying?
>> if meditation is "created" by changing
>> the parameters of relaxation, we can perhaps change meditation by
>> some new elements created especially in the purpose of increasing
>> intelligence. for instance, combine meditation with Ars memoria, or
>> doing martial arts movements to navigate in an abstract virtual
>> interface representing some mathematical or scientifical truthes,
>> little like the tai-chi experiment at
>> this page :

This would definately be a change. I don't think it could be called
meditation afterwards. Meditation is intended to produce transcendental
experiences, at least in the major meditative schools. The fundamental
property of transcendental consciousness (also called the introverted
mystical experience) is the complete abscence of any defining
characteristics. If a concept of mathematical and scientific truths
persist, then there can't be nothing, and thus it is not a
transcendental experience. However, I am not saying that such a goal is
necesarily far from meditation. It is reported in various meditation
literature that in states very close to transcendence highly abstract
and mathematical concepts persist after all the more gross thoughts and
sensations have disappeared. DesCartes' Meditations may be an example
of a state of consciousness just short of transcendence where all
awareness of the environment has disappeared but pure individuality and
abstract reasoning persist. The increase in pure intellect you seek may
be found fluctuation around the transcendental moments of pure

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