Lesson 1: Shiva’s 1st Truth – Ekagrata
Today’s Lesson is about Shiva’s 1st Truth: Ekagrata – his ability to find single-minded focus no matter what the circumstance.
From his stories we find that even in the most adverse conditions, Shiva has the capacity to remain single-minded in order to come up with a solution. And while some may say these are simply ‘stories’, they nonetheless contain a core solution, or Truth, for reaching a state of Purnatva. You too, can learn to use single-minded focus to help you live a more peaceful life, by following the direction illuminated through the god Shiva.
Without Focus, Life Controls YOU
Most people go through life with very little focus. They live their days without any self-reflection. They do not seek within, in order to discover what could make them truly happy. These are people who see the external world as determining their life experience. This results in feeling powerless to make change. And when one perceives oneself as powerless, then whining and complaint are sure to follow.
But we all know that whining does not help in any situation. It has never got anyone a job or a raise. It does not have the ability to get rid of the horrible boss who makes your life a living hell; nor can it change your difficult teenager who simply wants to rebel, and it certainly won’t improve your health!
As long as someone continues to live without focus, all those external circumstances will control them. It is a state of profound disempowerment – quite the opposite of what Shiva demonstrates under stress!
Our minds continuously wander in several directions, hence making it tougher for us to focus and complete important tasks in our daily lives. This has been made much worse by the pressure many of us feel to “get everything done” through multitasking.
The Myth of Multitasking
Multitasking is very much the epitome of lack of focus. In fact, as a popular “solution” to getting more accomplished, it glorifies the unfocused mind. But what few people realise, is that there have been significant studies which reveal how ineffective and unhealthy this behavior actually is!
Unfortunately, the results of multi-tasking are actually worse than simple inefficiency! These studies demonstrate what researchers call “severe interference” when even extremely simple tasks are done simultaneously. (seePashler 1994 and Gladstones, Regan & Lee 1989).For example, in the 1990s, psychologists began experiments to examine human multitasking. Their conclusions have been consistent: multitasking is not as efficient (and therefore not a time-saver) as periods of highly-concentrated effort.
The Psychiatrist Edward M. Hallowell has even described multitasking as a “mythical activity” in his book Crazy Busy: Overstretched, Overbooked, and About to Snap! Strategies for Handling Your Fast-Paced Life. (2007. Ballantine Books).
Others researchers have focused their studies on learning. Their results should make every parent, student and teacher think twice about this false notion of focusing on more than one thing at a time!
For example, in a 2003 study, researchers Mayer and Moreno looked at “cognitive load” in multimedia learning settings. Their conclusion: It’s difficult, if not impossible to learn new information while engaged in multitasking [emphasis mine].
And finally, a recent study of the effects multitasking has on academic performance found that students who used text messaging or Facebook while they studied, negatively impacted their grades. However, they did note that online research and emailing did not have a negative effect.
The Antidote? – Shiva’s Fierce Focus
While reading through the Vedas and the Puranas many years ago, I came across the idea of Ekagrata – the art of single-minded focus. I was immediately enthralled by it, because I saw in it the potential to help so many people! I saw how Ekagrata was the antidote for people rushing about in this modern world, feeling stress from all sorts of external pressures; people trying to accomplish more through multi-tasking, yet ultimately, achieving less; and people whose worries about things they cannot control are literally making them sick.
Thus, Ekagrata has since been the topic of discussion in many of my lectures. What I discovered is that people are genuinely hungry for this knowledge. They want to understand Shiva’s ability to maintain such fierce focus and more so, they want to know HOW they can learn from him to do this themselves!
How Does Shiva Do This? What is His Secret?
Over eons, Shiva has risen to the top of the Hindu Pantheon. A Pantheon comprised of 10s of thousands of deities! From his ancient beginnings, (stories of his birth are shrouded in mystery), to today, Shiva has become one of the ‘great’ gods of India, and known around the world.
Shiva is known for many things. As an ascetic, he renounces all worldly ties in order to devote himself to intense meditation atop Mount Kailash. As a husband and father, he is known for his love, loyalty and passion. Shiva is also the god whom all the other gods turn to when they cannot solve a problem.
As a god, of course, Shiva doesn’t have worldly worries like you or I. He doesn’t need to hold down a job, support a family or pay for a home. Yet he does have a family. And when they get too much for him, he can lose his focus. So when the world gets too much for Shiva, he turns to Ekagrata, going to the mountains to meditate and regain a sense of inner harmony through single-minded focus.
The 1st Step to Ekargata
Wouldn’t it be great if you could leave everything behind for a month or two when life becomes too hectic, and spend time focusing solely on yourself?
Unfortunately, for most of us, a retreat to a mountaintop is nearly impossible. We live in a world that makes demands on us. Responsibilities such as family, career and paying bills all limit our ability to simply escape. Yet if those demands impinge too greatly upon us, we lose focus, becoming fatigued and unhappy with our situation and ourselves.
What I learned through Shiva’s 1st Truth, Ekagrata, is that we don’t need a complete escape to the peace and quiet of the mountains to help us have a more fulfilled life. It is possible to bring that peace and quiet into our daily lives. And this leads to the first step in achieving Ekagrata …
Each of us has an energy that lies dormant within, waiting to be shaken awake. If we focus all the energy we spent on whining or crying about the unhappiness of our lives into introspection – trying to understand ourselves, what makes us happy, what we really want from life – we would be able to take the steps necessary to make those things happen.
And this is only possible through Ekagrata.
Ask yourself difficult questions, Focusing on them fiercely! Questions like:
• “Is this what I want from my life?”
• “Is my life going in the direction I want it to?”
• “Am I unhappy/happy with where I am in my life?”
• “What can I do to make myself happy/content/fulfilled?”
Then look to Shiva. When he is deep in meditation seeking answers, nothing and no one can have an effect on him. His wife cannot distract him, nor his sons. Not even the other gods can shake his concentration!
How Complete Focus Can Help You In Love, Money and Health
Ekagrata isn’t just a way to get more done, improve grades or get a better position. The most valuable gift of mastering Ekagrata is the improvements you’ll experience in every area of your life. How? by helping you develop the qualities of patience and awareness.
These qualities are necessary for every relationship you have. They’re also necessary for making smart decisions about your career and money, as well as how to take care of your health properly. In fact, it is when you lack these valuable qualities of patience and awareness that your life can quickly spin out of control.
Shiva’s Power is within You, Too!
In Hindu mythology, the mind has been attributed with great powers. Shiva epitomizes this power of the mind by escaping from the chaos of the world, isolating himself in order to cultivate focus. Through Ekagrata, he is able to maintain control of his mind, his thoughts, words and actions. To achieve this control. In his guise as Maha (great) Yogi, Shiva teaches us the value of spending time alone, in introspection.
And when you understand Shiva, you will also accept that this power resides within you, too. Even when you are going through a personal crisis or challenge, when you recognize the power of your mind and its ability to maintain focus through disciplined practice, you have the ability to stay on the path and actualize your dreams.
3 Simple Steps You Can Take Right Now
Just follow these steps to begin your journey to Ekagrata.
1. Set an Intention
(to get a raise, find a new job, lose weight, improve a relationship …)
2. Give it your Total Attention
. This means action as well as focus: Be pro-active, let the boss see that you are working hard and interested in what you do. If you want to change your job, upgrade your resume/CV. For health or relationships, change your diet or find activities that bring you into circles of people you want to spend time with.
3. Stay Committed.
Setbacks happen, but you needn’t let them stop you. Keep moving forward and overcoming obstacles if they present themselves. Maintain your attention on your intention and allow your single-minded focus to lead you to achieving your dream!
Ekagrata is the first Truth to finding fulfillment or Purnatva. Right now, working towards Ekagrata will feel much like a daily battle. Will you get
discouraged as your mind sways this way and that? Of course! Will you sometimes fall asleep or feel ‘antsy’ because life is demanding your attention?
Definitely. But if you stick to this one practice, what you will find is that you will bring yourself closer to Shiva’s ultimate prize: Purnatva – the
Wholesomeness that comes from mental focus, balance and all of Shiva’s Truths!
Achieve Ekagrata Without Years of Lonely Practice
If the thought of achieving Ekagrata only after decades of self-discipline sounds too hard, then you’ll benefit from what you’ll achieve with the full, Shiva Experience program. Not only will you gain deeper wisdom through the stories of Shiva, you’ll also get valuable skills and tools for optimal meditation, as well as the support that comes from being part of the greater Shiva Experience Community!
Here are a few other benefits of working with the full program:
● When you channel Ekagrata into your career… you will gain greater focus and confidence in your decisions and abilities, that in turn helps you accomplish much more with less effort.
● When you channel Ekagrata into your relationships… communication with your loved ones becomes more meaningful and perceptive, as you intuitively connect with their thoughts and needs.
● When you channel Ekagrata into your health… you will start automatically rejecting unhealthy lifestyle habits, gravitating instead towards choices that honor your mind, body and spirit.
●When you channel Ekagrata into your finances… you will have the power to build greater abundance in your life, freeing yourself of struggle, or feelings of guilt or fear related to money or spending.
● And in addition to Ekagrata, the full program also give you detailed lessons for mastering the rest of Shiva’s steps to Purnatva.
In tomorrow’s Lesson, you will discover Shiva’s 2nd Secret, and how mastering it will
>> improve your communication with anyone
>> lower your stress levels
>> help you make the best possible decisions in any situation
>> let go of pain and heartbreak from the past
So be sure to look for and open tomorrow’s email from me, entitled: “Vairagya – Shiva’s 2nd Truth”
Om Namah Shivaya
Dr. Nilima Chitgopekar