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Bardon's Thought Discipline Exercise


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#1 Eres

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Posted 01 April 2018 - 03:38 PM

I feel silly asking this because it's such a simple exercise, but...

In Initiation Into Hermetics, the second exercise is: "Retain one single thought or idea for a longer period of time while you steadfastly suppress all other thoughts which obtrusively try to join it. Select any idea or train of thought or any other suitable concept for this purpose at your own discretion. Retain this concept with all your power. Vigorously reject all other thoughts which have nothing to do with the one you are practicing."

I'm not really sure if I'm doing this right. The concept I picked is "discipline". During the exercise, I repeatedly subvocalize the word, while attempting to retain a visual image of a monk meditating, or if the written word itself.

I've found that I can easily maintain an auditory thought loop without giving it any attention, kind of like having a song stuck in your head. So I can actually continually hear "discipline" in my mind *while* thinking about something else entirely. So if nothing else, the consistency of my subvocalization isn't very indicative of successful thought discipline.

Am I picking a bad idea to mediate on? Should it instead be a train of thought, such that I can think about anything as long as it is discipline related? Should I try to quiet the subvocalization? Any other comments or suggestions?

#2 R. Eugene Laughlin

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Posted 01 April 2018 - 04:05 PM

View PostEres, on 01 April 2018 - 03:38 PM, said:


I've found that I can easily maintain an auditory thought loop without giving it any attention, kind of like having a song stuck in your head. So I can actually continually hear "discipline" in my mind *while* thinking about something else entirely. So if nothing else, the consistency of my subvocalization isn't very indicative of successful thought discipline.

No, it isn't. Single-point focus is a useful skill, but the only people who seem to get there by way of Bardon's instructions are the kind of people that sort of already do it by their own nature. For everyone else, which is most people, his instructions don't help. More often people who make a sincere effort at following Bardon's method take a hit to their self-esteem, and then have to work through that before they can reasonably get onto something else.
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#3 Imperial Arts

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Posted 01 April 2018 - 04:54 PM

Some of the older threads probably cover this outside the context of the Bardon universe, and may be helpful.

Not to derail your Bardon adventure, but this is a pretty common discipline invoked by occult authors. One of the better examples, which is also expanded in his other work, is "Eight Lectures on Yoga" by AC, the second part in particular, regarding pratyahara and dharana.

Your thoughts will revolt if you try to constrain them to one thing. Are you not their master? Who, then, is in control? Isn't it your mind, why can't you make it do as you please? Those are some of the issues at work beneath the practical veneer of yoga/meditation. It is like weight-lifting, but instead of gravity, your obstacle is the tendency of the brain to resist restriction.
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#4 Eres

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Posted 02 April 2018 - 07:17 PM

I was thinking of using the level two exercises from psychonauts as a substitute for Bardon's mental discipline exercise.

#5 Shinichi

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Posted 03 April 2018 - 02:01 PM

1) Don't meditate on an abstract thing like "discipline" right off the bat. Choose a concrete focal point. A candle flame that you can stare at, a dot on the wall, a mantra or a song you like, the rhythm of your breath. These are good focal points to start with, because they are something you can actually hold onto. Don't just do this in the five minutes of the exercise either, but throughout the day, which Bardon himself advises. When you are eating, set down your phone and other distractions and concentrate on eating. When you are driving, don't text or listen to the radio or passengers, drive! When you are at work, focus on your work. When you're watching TV, put away your phone and laptop and concentrate on the movie. If you practice like this, success will come very quickly indeed. But if you spend all day stretching your mind thin with multi-tasking and distractions, then it will be very hard to have real progress even if you practice for an hour every day instead of Bardon's five minutes.

2) It's efficient to view the mental discipline exercises as a process. With the observation exercise, you practice becoming more aware of your own mind and detaching yourself from your thoughts. When the control exercise, you hold onto a focal point while continuing to practice what you learned in observation. That is, hold onto the focal point, and while other thoughts come up, just acknowledge them and let them go. Like this, you can cultivate relaxed focus, instead of stressed focus, which is much better. Lastly, when the side thoughts come up much less frequently and you're holding just the focal point in your mind, then you can let go of that too and just sit in mental silence. This is not a vacancy of mind, per se, just a silencing of thoughts. It is a relaxation of mind.

When you have experience successfully meditating on concrete things as a focal point, then you can play with abstract and conceptual things like "discipline" or the elements and you'll be able to have much more interesting experiences too.




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#6 Eres

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Posted 03 April 2018 - 07:30 PM

Thanks Shin, that all makes a lot of sense. Focusing on a candle is actually what the early exercises of Psychonauts has you do. I'll go with that.





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