Let me share a secret concentration exercise with you.
You’ve probably never heard about it.
I dug it up in a rare book –first published in 1936 (and by now rather pricey).
Anyway, this concentration exercise is unlike any other I’ve seen.
The Hard Way to Exercise Your Concentration
Have you tried meditation yet? Or any other exercise to hone your focus skill?
If you’re like most people, you’ve done something like this:
You sat down trying to rivet your attention to your breath… banishing all other thoughts –for as long as humanly possible.
Each time your mind wanders, you force it back to the breathing. What’s the problem with that? It’s probably the most difficult thing in the world. (Unless you’re some monk meditating 4-hours a day, 7-days a week.) Yes, meditating is an enriching practice, yet it’s not ideal for polishing your focus lens.
If you want an easy exercise that helps you to bundle your mind’s power as a laser beam try . . . “The 4 Roads of Thought.”
The 4 Roads of Thoughts – The Easy Way to Laser-Like Focus
This rare focus training is easy to master and pays off quickly.
The basis of this practice is to magnify one core-thought and then surround it with associations –while keeping the core-thought in mental ‘vision.’ Kinda like a tree, the trunk represents the core-thought, the branches the thoughts linked to the trunk.
Let’s run through an example. Follow along to get the most out of this:
STEP-A: Picking the core-thought
For this example, imagine for a moment a cute, furry cat.
This cat is, for now, your central thought. Up next, we want buttress this main idea by linking it to association-clusters.
STEP-B: Clustering associations around the 4 Roads of Thought
Like the vast roots of an ancient tree, we want to unearth each idea in touch with “cat.” But we don’t want to follow each idea randomly.
What’s the critical component? We need to funnel all thought-associations into the ‘4 Roads of Thought’. Without ever losing sight of the core thought (the cat).
Road of Thought #1: Categories
When you think about that furry cat, ask yourself, “What are the categories the cat belongs to?”
As an example: A cat is a “domesticated mammal.” Further, it’s a “feline,” a “carnivore,” and “quadruped,”
And that’s the beginning. Come up with your own categories, like: “vermin hunter,” “human lover,” “comforting friend,” etc. Can you dig up more categories?
Follow along for a minute and stretch your brain until you’ve depleted all options.
You’ll recognize, it’s easy to stay centralized on your core subject, the cat.
The further you take this, the further you grease your thinking muscle.
Road of Thought #2: Parts
Next, take another minute to investigate all individual parts a cat consists of. What are all the parts that make the cat a cat?
You got its little paws, the fluffy fur, its eyes, the ears, the tail, etc. If you’re familiar with anatomy, you can go into great detail here.
Road of Thought #3: Quality
Now, what are your cat’s qualities? What attributes and characteristics embody a cat?
Think in terms of color, shape, size, motions, habits, speed, weight, quirks, behaviors, tastes, and so on.
Conjure up as many ‘cat-qualities’ as possible. Again, strain your brain until you’ve exhausted all possibilities.
Road of Thought #4: Personal Associations
This, the last road of thought, is the most exciting one. It’s about investigating your personal memories attached to cats.
If, for instance, you think of cats, your personal associations are: milk, purring, cat food, cat tree, cuddling, meowing, meadows, scratched sofas, mice, etc. You’ll probably have an extensive list of personal thought-items attached to “cat.”
Have fun exploring your mind. Occasionally your mind will tempt you to wander off to different subjects. Remain centered and keep that cat in perspective.
Going through each Road-of-Thought, you should feel you’ve exhausted all possibilities till you move on to the next Road.
Benefits from ‘Walking’ the 4 Roads of Thought
Now that I’ve explained to you the “how-to,” what benefits can you expect practicing this unique concentration exercise?
- Amplifies concentration – I found it got easier to keep my mind attached to one single subject without losing focus. I found it easier to immerse myself in, for example, my work, in a reading.
- Deepens and streamlines thinking – I chose some ideas I’ve been tinkering with to put to the test with this method. Tt’s a revealing process leading to staggering “aha-moments.”
- Unburies passive knowledge – Just by thinking about, for instance, a book I’ve read in the past, I was able to rediscover and recollect lots of interesting facts I’ve forgotten about.
- Gain creativity & reveal insights – Imagine exploring any subject that really matters to you. It’s evident that by magnifying one idea through the 4 Roads of Thoughts, you’ll eventually stumble upon groundbreaking insights.
But, that’s just from my personal thought adventures.
Why don’t you find out for yourself? What can you get out of this exercise?
If you really want to focus on something, says Castellanos, the optimum amount of time to spend on it is ninety minutes. “Then change tasks. And watch out for interruptions once you’re really concentrating because it will take you twenty minutes to recover.Winifred Gallagher
What to do next?
Choose one subject to focus on. A book title, your spouse, your dog, best friend, …
Practice this exercise for 15 minutes a day, and you’ll lubricate your mind, make it far stronger and brighter than it right now.
As always, I’d love to hear from YOU.
Leave a comment below. Which thought did you put to the test and what are your results?
I’d like to know how this concentration exercise affected you.