. THE SELF-MASTERY: SELF-DIRECTION POWER OF CONCENTRATION

Man from a psychological standpoint of development is not what he
should be. He does not possess the self-mastery, the
self-directing power of concentration that is his by right.

He has not trained himself in a way to promote his self-mastery.
Every balanced mind possesses the faculties whose chief duties
are to engineer, direct and concentrate the operations of the
mind, both in a mental and physical sense. Man must learn to
control not only his mind but his bodily movements.

When the controlling faculties (autonomic) are in an untrained
condition, the impulses, passions, emotions, thoughts, actions
and habits of the person suffer from lack of regulation, and the
procedure of mental concentration is not good, not because the
mind is necessarily weak in the autonomic department of the
faculties, but because the mind is not properly trained.

When the self-regulating faculties are not developed the
impulses, appetites, emotions and passions have full swing to do
as they please and the mind becomes impulsive, restless,
emotional and irregular in its action. This is what makes mental
concentration poor.

When the self-guiding faculties are weak in development, the
person always lacks the power of mental concentration. Therefore
you cannot learn to concentrate until you develop those very
powers that qualify you to be able to concentrate. So if you
cannot concentrate one of the following is the cause:

1. "Deficiency of the motor centers."
2. "An impulsive and emotional mind."
3. "An untrained mind."

The last fault can soon be removed by systematic practice. It is
easiest to correct.

The impulsive and emotional state of mind can best be corrected
by restraining anger, passion and excitement, hatred, strong
impulses, intense emotions, fretfulness, etc. It is impossible to
concentrate when you are in any of these excited states.

These can be naturally decreased by avoiding such food and drinks
as have nerve weakening or stimulating influences, or a tendency
to stir up the passions, the impulses and the emotions; it is a very good practice to watch and associate with those persons that
are steady, calm, controlled and conservative.

Correcting the deficiency of the motor centers is harder because
as the person's brain is undeveloped he lacks will power.
Many have the idea that when they get into a negative state they
are concentrating, but this is not so. They may be meditating,
though not concentrating. Those that are in a negative state a
good deal of the time cannot, as a rule, concentrate very well;
they develop instead abstraction of the mind, or absence of mind.
Their power of concentration becomes weaker and they find it
difficult to concentrate on anything. They very often injure the
brain, if they keep up this state. To be able to concentrate you
must possess strength of mind. The person that is feeble-minded
cannot concentrate his mind, because of lack of will. The mind
that cannot center itself on a special subject, or thought, is
weak; also the mind that cannot draw itself from a subject or
thought is weak. But the person that can center his mind on any
problem, no matter what it is, and remove any unharmonious
impressions has strength of mind. Concentration, first, last and
all the time, means strength of mind.

Through concentration a person is able to collect and hold his
mental and physical energies at work. A concentrated mind pays
attention to thoughts, words, acts and plans. The person who
allows his mind to roam at will will never accomplish a great
deal in the world. He wastes his energies. If you work, think,
talk and act aimlessly, and allow your brain to wander from your
subject to foreign fields, you will not be able to concentrate.
You concentrate at the moment when you say, "I want to, I can, I
will."

Some Mistakes Some People Make. If you waste your time reading
sensational stories or worthless newspaper items, you excite the
impulsive and the emotional faculties, and this means you are
weakening your power of concentration. You will not be a free
engineer, able to pilot yourself to success.
Concentration of the mind can only be developed by watching
yourself closely. All kinds of development commence with close
attention. You should regulate your every thought and feeling.
When you commence to watch yourself and your own acts and also
the acts of other people, you use the faculties of autonomy, and,
as you continue to do so, you improve your faculties, until in
time you can engineer your every thought, wish and plan. To be
able to focalize the mind on the object at hand in a conscious
manner leads to concentration. Only the trained mind can
focalize. To hold a thought before it until all the faculties
shall have had time to consider that thought is concentration.

The person that cannot direct his thoughts, wishes, plans,
resolutions and studies cannot possibly succeed to the fullest
extent. The person that is impulsive one moment and calm the next
has not the proper control over himself. He is not a master of
his mind, nor of his thoughts, feelings and wishes. Such a person
cannot be a success. When he becomes irritated, he irritates
others and spoils all chances of any concerned doing their best.
But the person that can direct his energies and hold them at work
in a concentrated manner controls his every work and act, and
thereby gains power to control others. He can make his every move
serve a useful end and every thought a noble purpose.

In this day the man that gets excited and irritable should be
looked upon as an undesirable person. The person of good breeding
now speaks with slowness and deliberation. He is cultivating more
and more of a reposeful attitude. He is consciously attentive and
holds his mind to one thing at a time. He shuts out everything
else. When you are talking to anyone give him your sole and
undivided attention. Do not let your attention wander or be
diverted. Give no heed to anything else, but make your will and
intellect act in unison.

Start out in the morning and see how self-poised you can remain
all day. At times take an inventory of your actions during the
day and see if you have kept your determination. If not, see that
you do tomorrow. The more self-poised you are the better will
your concentration be. Never be in too much of a hurry; and,
remember, the more you improve your concentration, the greater
are your possibilities. Concentration means success, because you
are better able to govern yourself and centralize your mind; you
become more in earnest in what you do and this almost invariably
improves your chances for success.

When you are talking to a person have your own plans in mind.
Concentrate your strength upon the purpose you are talking about.
Watch his every move, but keep your own plans before you. Unless
you do, you will waste your energy and not accomplish as much as
you should.

I want you to watch the next person you see that has the
reputation of being a strong character, a man of force. Watch and
see what a perfect control he has over his body. Then I want you
to watch just an ordinary person. Notice how he moves his eyes,
arms, fingers; notice the useless expenditure of energy. These
movements all break down the vital cells and lessen the person's
power in vital and nerve directions. It is just as important for
you to conserve your nervous forces as it is the vital forces. As
an example we see an engine going along the track very smoothly.
Some one opens all the valves and the train stops. It is the same
with you. If you want to use your full amount of steam, you must
close your valves and direct your power of generating mental
steam toward one end. Center your mind on one purpose, one plan,
one transaction.

There is nothing that uses up nerve force so quickly as
excitement. This is why an irritable person is never magnetic; he
is never admired or loved; he does not develop those finer
qualities that a real gentleman possesses. Anger, sarcasm and
excitement weaken a person in this direction. The person that
allows himself to get excited will become nervous in time,
because he uses up his nerve forces and his vital energies. The
person that cannot control himself and keep from becoming excited
cannot concentrate.

When the mind can properly concentrate, all the energy of every
microscopic cell is directed into one channel and then there is a
powerful personal influence generated. Everyone possesses many
millions of little trembling cells, and each one of these has a
center where life and energy are stored up and generated. If this
energy is not wasted but conserved and controlled, this person is
influential, but when it is the opposite, he is not influential
or successful.

Just as it is impossible for a steam engine to run with all its
valves open, so is it impossible for you to waste your energy and
run at your top speed. Each neuron in the gray layers of the
brain is a psychic center of thought and action, each one is
pulsating an intelligent force of some kind, and when this force,
your thoughts and motions, are kept in cheek by a conservative,
systematic and concentrated mind, the result will be magnetism,
vitality and health. The muscles, bones, ligaments, feet, hands
and nerves, etc., are agents for carrying out the mandates of the
mind. The sole purpose of the volitional faculties is to move the
physical mechanism as the energy travels along the wires of
nerves and muscles. Just for that reason, if you throw a
voluntary control over these messages, impulses, thoughts,
emotions, physical movements and over these physical instruments
you develop your faculties of self-mastery and to the extent you
succeed here in proportion will you develop the power of
concentration.

Any exercise or work that excites the mind, stimulates the
senses, calls the emotions and appetites into action, confuses,
terrifies or emotionalizes, weakens the power of concentration.
This is why all kind of excitement is bad. This is the reason why
persons who drink strong drinks, who allow themselves to get into
fits of temper, who fight, who eat stimulating food, who sing and
dance and thus develop their emotions, who are sudden, vehement
and emotional, lack the power to concentrate. But those whose
actions are slower and directed by their intelligence develop
concentration. Sometimes dogmatic, wilful, excitable persons can
concentrate, but it is spasmodic, erratic concentration instead
of controlled and uniform concentration. Their energy works by
spells; sometimes they have plenty, other times very little; it
is easily excited; easily wasted. The best way to understand it
is to compare it with the discharge of a gun. If the gun goes off
when you want it to, it accomplishes the purpose, but if it goes
off before you are ready for it, you will not only waste
ammunition, but it is also likely to do some damage. That is just
what most persons do. They allow their energy to explode, thus
not only wasting it but endangering others. They waste their
power, their magnetism and so injure their chance of success.
Such persons are never well liked and never will be until they
gain control over themselves.

It will be necessary for them to practice many different kinds of
concentration exercises, and to keep them up for some time. They
must completely overcome their sudden, erratic thoughts, and
regulate their emotions and movements. They must from morning to
night train the mind to be steady, and direct and keep the
energies at work.

The lower area of the brain is the store house of the energy.
Most all persons have all the dynamic energy they need if they
would concentrate it. They have the machine, but they must also
have the engineer, or they will not go very far. The engineer is
the self-regulating, directing power. The person that does not
develop his engineering qualities will not accomplish much in
life. The good engineer controls his every act. All work assists
in development. By what you do you either advance or degenerate.
This is a good idea to keep always in mind. When you are
uncertain whether you should do something or not, just think
whether by doing it you will grow or deteriorate, and act
accordingly.

I am a firm believer in "work when you work, and play when you
play." When you give yourself up to pleasure you can develop
concentration by thinking of nothing else but pleasure; when your
mind dwells on love, think of nothing but this and you will find
you can develop a more intense love than you ever had before.
When you concentrate your mind on the "you" or real self, and its
wonderful possibilities, you develop concentration and a higher
opinion of yourself. By doing this systematically, you develop
much power, because you cannot be systematic without
concentrating on what you are doing. When you walk out into the
country and inhale the fresh air, studying vegetation, trees,
etc., you are concentrating. When you see that you are at your
place of business at a certain time each morning you are
developing steadiness of habit and becoming systematic. If you
form the habit of being on time one morning, a little late the
next, and still later the following one, you are not developing
concentration, but whenever you fix your mind on a certain
thought and hold your mind on it at successive intervals, you
develop concentration.

If you hold your mind on some chosen object, you centralize your
attention, just like the lens of the camera centralizes on a
certain landscape. Therefore always hold your mind on what you
are doing, no matter what it is. Keep a careful watch over
yourself, for unless you do your improvement will be very slow.

Practice inhaling long, deep breaths, not simply for the
improvement of health, although that is no small matter, but also
for the purpose of developing more power, more love, more life.
All work assists in development.

You may think it foolish to try to develop concentration by
taking muscular exercises, but you must not forget that the mind
is associated with muscle and nerve. When you steady your nerves
and muscles, you steady your mind, but let your nerves get out of
order and your mind will become erratic and you will not possess
the power of direction, which, in other words, is concentration.
Therefore you understand how important exercises that steady the
nerves and muscles are in developing concentration.

Everyone is continually receiving impulses that must be directed
and controlled if one is to lead a successful life. That is the
reason why a person must control the movements of his eyes, feet,
fingers, etc.; this is another reason why it is important to
control his breathing. The slow, deep, prolonged exhalations are
of wonderful value. They steady the circulation, the heart
action, muscles and nerves of the mind. If the heart flutters,
the circulation is not regular, and when the lung action is
uneven, the mind becomes unsteady and not fit for concentration.
This is why controlled breathing is very important as a
foundation for physical health.

You must not only concentrate your mind, but also the action of
the eyes, ears and fingers. Each of these contain miniature minds
that are controlled by the master engineer. You will develop much
quicker if you thoroughly realize this.

If you have ever associated with big men, or read their
biographies, you will find that they usually let the others do
the talking. It is much easier to talk than it is to listen.
There is no better exercise for concentration than to pay close
attention when some one is talking. Besides learning from what
they have to say, you may develop both mental and physical
concentration.

When you shake hands with some one just think of your hand as
containing hundreds of individual minds, each having an
intelligence of its own. When you put this feeling into your hand
shake it shows personality. When you shake hands in a listless
way, it denotes timidity, lack of force and power of personality.
When the hand grip is very weak and stiff, the person has little
love in his nature, no passion and no magnetism. When the hand
shake is just the opposite, you will find that the nature is
also. The loveless person is non-magnetic and he shows that he is
by his non-magnetic hand shake. When two developed souls shake
hands, their clasps are never light. There is a thrill that goes
through both when the two currents meet. Love arouses the
opposite currents of the positive and negative natures. When
there is no love, life loses its charm. The hand quickly shows
when love is being aroused. This is why you should study the art
of hand shaking and develop your social affections. A person that
loves his kind reflects love, but a person that hates reflects hate. The person with a bad nature, a hateful disposition, evil
thoughts and feeling is erratic, freakish and fitful. When you
allow yourself to become irritable, watch how you breathe and you
will learn a valuable lesson. Watch how you breathe when you are
happy. Watch your breathing when you harbor hate. Watch how you
breathe when you feel in love with the whole world and noble
emotions thrill you. When filled with good thoughts, you breathe
a plentiful supply of oxygen into your lungs and love fills your
soul. Love develops a person, physically, mentally and socially.
Breathe deeply when you are happy and you will gain life and
strength; you will steady your mind and you will develop your
power of concentration and become magnetic and powerful.

If you want to get more out of life you must think more of love.
Unless you have real affection for something, you have no
sentiment, no sweetness, no magnetism. So arouse your love
affections by your will and enter into a fuller life.

The hand of love always magnetizes, but it must be steady and
controlled. Love can be concentrated in your hand shake, and this
is one of the best ways to influence another.

The next time you feel yourself becoming irritable, use your will
and be patient. This is a very good exercise in self-control. It
will help you to keep patient if you will breathe slowly and
deeply. If you find you are commencing to speak fast, just
control yourself and speak slowly and clearly. Keep from either
raising or lowering your voice and concentrate on the fact that
you are determined to keep your poise, and you will improve your
power of concentration.

When you meet people of some consequence, assume a reposeful
attitude before them. Do this at all times. Watch both them and
yourself. Static exercises develop the motor faculties and
increase the power of concentration. If you feel yourself getting
irritable, nervous or weak, stand squarely on your feet with your
chest up and inhale deeply and you will see that your
irritability will disappear and a silent calm will pass over you.

If you are in the habit of associating with nervous, irritable
people, quit it until you grow strong in the power of
concentration, because irritable, angry, fretful, dogmatic and
disagreeable people will weaken what powers of resistance you
have.

Any exercises that give you better control of the ears, fingers,
eyes, feet, help you to steady your mind; when your eye is
steady, your mind is steady. One of the best ways to study a
person is to watch his physical movements, for, when we study his
actions, we are studying his mind. Because actions are the
expressions of the mind. As the mind is, so is the action. If it
is uneasy, restless, erratic, unsteady, its actions are the same.
When it is composed, the mind is composed. Concentration means
control of the mind and body. You cannot secure control over one
without the other.

Many people who seem to lack ambition have sluggish minds. They
are steady, patient and seemingly have good control, but this
does not say they are able to concentrate. These people are
indolent, inactive, slow and listless, because they lack energy;
they do not lose control because they have little force to
control. They have no temper and it therefore cannot disturb
them. Their actions are steady because they possess little
energy. The natural person is internally strong, energetic and
forceful, but his energy, force and strength, thoughts and
physical movements are well under his control.

If a person does not have energy, both mental and physical, he
must develop it. If he has energy which he cannot direct and hold
to a point he must learn to do so. A man may be very capable,
but, unless he Wills to control his abilities, they will not do
him any good.

We hear so much talk about the benefit of physical culture, but
the real benefit of this is really lost sight of. There is
nothing that holds the faculties at work in a sustained and
continuous manner as static exercises do. For, as stated before,
when you learn to control the body, you are gaining control over
the mind.