The Art of Concentrating by Means of Practical Psychic Exercises
It will be necessary to first train the body to obey the commands
of the mind. I want you to gain control of your muscular
movements. The following exercise is especially good in assisting
you to acquire perfect control of the muscles.
Sit in a comfortable chair and see how still you can keep. This
is not as easy as it seems. You will have to center your
attention on sitting still. Watch and see that you are not making
any involuntary muscular movements. By a little practice you will
find you are able to sit still without a movement of the muscles
for fifteen minutes. At first I advise sitting in a relaxed
position for five minutes. After you are able to keep perfectly
still, increase the time to ten minutes and then to fifteen. This
is as long as it is necessary. But never strain yourself to keep
still. You must be relaxed completely. You will find this habit
of relaxing is very good.
Sit in a chair with your head up and your chin out, shoulders
back. Raise your right arm until it is on the level with your
shoulder, pointing to your right. Look around, with head only,
and fix your gaze on your fingers, and keep the arm perfectly
still for one minute. Do the same exercise with left arm. When
you are able to keep the arm perfectly steady, increase the time
until you are able to do this five minutes with each arm. Turn
the palm of the hand downward when it is outstretched, as this is
the easiest position. If you will keep your eyes fixed on the
tips of the fingers you will be able to tell if you are keeping
your arm perfectly still.
Fill a small glass full of water, and grasp it by the fingers;
put the arm directly in front of you. Now fix the eyes upon the
glass and try to keep the arm so steady that no movement will be
noticeable. Do this first for one moment and then increase it to
five. Do the exercise with first one arm and then the other.
Watch yourself during the day and see that your muscles do not
become tense or strained. See how easy and relaxed you can keep
yourself. See how poised you can be at all times. Cultivate a
self-poised manner, instead of a nervous, strained appearance.
This mental feeling will improve your carriage and demeanor. Stop
all useless gestures and movements of the body. These mean that
you have not proper control over your body. After you have
acquired this control, notice how "ill-at-ease" people are that
have not gained this control. I have just been sizing up a
salesman that has just left me. Part of his body kept moving all
the time. I just felt like saying to him, "Do you know how much
better appearance you would make if you would just learn to speak
with your voice instead of trying to express what you say with
your whole body?" Just watch those that interview you and see how
they lack poise.
Get rid of any habit you have of twitching or jerking any part of
your body. You will find you make many involuntary movements. You
can quickly stop any of these by merely centering your attention
on the thought, "I will not."
If you are in the habit of letting noises upset you, just
exercise control; when the door slams, or something falls, etc.,
just think of these as exercises in self-control. You will find
many exercises like this in your daily routine.
The purpose of the above exercises is to gain control over the
involuntary muscular movement, making your actions entirely
voluntary. The following exercises are arranged to bring your
voluntary muscles under the control of the will, so that your
mental forces may control your muscular movements.
Move your chair up to a table, placing your hands upon it,
clenching the fists, keeping the back of the hand on the table,
the thumb doubled over the fingers. Now fix your gaze upon the
fist for a while, then gradually extend the thumb, keeping your
whole attention fixed upon the act, just as if it was a matter of
great importance. Then gradually extend your first finger, then
your second and so on until you open the rest. Then reverse the
process, closing first the last one opened and then the rest, and
finally you will have the fist again in the original position
with the thumb closed over the finger. Do this exercise with the
left hand. Keep up this exercise first with one hand and then the
other until you have done it five times with each hand. In a few
days you can increase it to ten times.
The chances are that the above exercises will at first make you
"tired," but it is important for you to practice these monotonous
exercises so you can train your attention. It also gives you
control over your muscular movement. The attention, of course,
must be kept closely on each movement of the hand; if it is not,
you of course lose the value of the exercise.