Practical note on Intention and Awareness
This topic has been discussed in this blog at Modes of Intention, Attention and Awareness.
The practice discussed here is found on this YouTube-video:
Daniel - san:
It's an interesting technique, I tried it because I'm either dark nighting or just in general gloomyness. I think I felt some positive effect, I will play with it some more though. Questions. Would you consider this an energy practice? In my view I guess everything conscious or movement-based could be considered an energy practice, but do you see this technique as something in line with aerobic exercise or chi gong, that moves heavy energies through the system? Something supportive prior to sitting practice?
Kim: This technique is based on the shamatha/shamatta-principle. Quick contraction, a sharp sting and immediate release, repeated many times if necessary. After the immediate release a different vista of the mind can be found, the natural state of clarity and emptiness.
As you know from your training at the Miyagi Dojo, all martial artists contract their muscles and clench their teeth when delivering a kick or a punch. A kick (like the Crane Kick that you did in the first film) or a punch doesn't have the same power if jaws are separate. Test it. Combining the muscle contraction with teeth makes it a comprehensive technique that works really well in cutting through depression, monkey mind, anxiety or any stubborn emotion. Plus that it makes the muscles of your body firm.
In real time the action of sharp concentration (here applied thought muscle contraction, there are other ways) lasts for 0.5 to 1 second. If we time-stretch this to last 10 seconds or more, we can realise that this simple action is based on the same principle as concentration practices that are more commonly known, it's just condensed to a short moment. And because of that it has a sharper cutting edge, "more juice" or will power to cut through anything that can be cut down. By anything I refer to any dualistic mind content be it depression, busy mind or whatever. When it is applied with commitment to the specific details of this instruction, you end up in the natural state. And this is achieved in minutes, not in days or weeks of retreat. Simple and direct. It's a splendid way to chop down that gloominess of yours.
As the natural state becomes familiar through applying this principle, whether through a muscle and teeth contraction or through a sudden sharp shout, this makes us see our sitting practice or moments in action in a different light. But, in short, yes I think it is very useful to apply this whether you are going to sit down for meditation after it or not.
Most shamatha-meditation techniques are based on the time-streched version of concentration which makes it a lot more difficult because you keep getting distracted all the time. The nonphysical "muscle" of mental concentration can also be applied sharply but to know how to apply this, requires different skills. Simplest way to get to this principle, momentary concentration applied to it's maximum, is to contract the muscles and teeth or shout.
When you do it like this you can quite easily come to understand the relationship of concentration and awareness, the natural state. But if you cannot get glimpses of the natural state and yet do concentration practices of very mild intensity, you will probably spend years trying to enhance your skill of one-pointed concentration while knowing close to nothing about the natural state. This dichotomy and ignorance can be shattered by getting to know the natural state of which dynamic extension concentration is.