Originally written in 2016
It is clear to me that there is no one best technique for training the mind in order to attain all the desired qualities we would like of a fully, actualised individual. Some such traits being: equanimity, clarity, focus, concentration, compassion, creativity, gratuity, confidence, stability, open-mindedness and wisdom. Different meditative practices yield different rewards, and I think training in a variety of them is necessary for having and keeping a contented, balanced and optimally functioning mind.
The brain behaves much like a muscle does, it needs continuous exercise in order to enhance and maintain the benefits that come from working targeted areas. As with exercising the body, it does not make sense to train only one muscle group, whilst neglecting the rest, and expect to be a perfectly rounded individual who can perform well in all circumstances. It is evident that just like with physical exercise, mental exercise has to be sustained with continual practice. It is not enough to quit once you’ve reached a particular level of attainment (be it accessing a certain concentration state, overall feeling of peace, or being able to sit for a measured stretch of time) because your gains can be lost if not maintained. Progress can regress.
Keeping with the metaphor, just like with weight lifting there is no need to do every exercise that has ever been documented throughout the annals of history. Having a broad enough repertoire of activities, that cultivate the kind of results in yourself that you value, is sufficient; but it doesn’t hurt to mix things up every now and then either — so as to make sure the mind doesn’t become complacent. And indeed sometimes it is best to ease up on the training and other times to bear down. But only doing one kind of meditation technique your whole life will not produce in you all the qualities of the optimum human being. Perhaps you can access and maintain deep states of concentration very easily, and off the cushion this helps you find it effortless to stay focused on specific, mundane tasks at work, without getting side-tracked or bored; but this provides menial aid in your ability to harbour deep love for others or be the kind of person that naturally thinks positive, productive thoughts.
Some may argue that full enlightenment can be reached with only one technique, and it would depend on what they mean by full enlightenment, but it is scientifically naïve to think that by refining the ability of only one targeted faculty of the mind, we can expect all other areas of the brain to follow suit and perform in perfect alignment. One may master the art of painting, but if they’ve never played chess they can’t expect to be an instant pro.
In future posts I will list some of the different ways one can systematically use their attention to marble their mind, producing the kind of wholesome qualities one would desire. I will document how to do each technique and what kind of benefits they are likely to produce.