To meditate, we must focus the mind. Our tool is concentration. The better our concentration, the easier it is to enter into meditation. As a chef cannot work with a blunt knife, so one cannot meditate with a scattered and wandering concentration.

Just as the force of the sun’s rays can be intensified and multiplied by using a magnifying glass, to the point where a fire can be started, so the mind’s power of concentration can be sharpened and intensified by practising bringing all of the mind’s awareness to a single point.

To develop our power of concentration, there are many exercises where one focuses exclusively on something tiny and imagines oneself entering into, and ultimately becoming that object.

Two of these exercises involve our thumbnail, and a black dot. In both cases, focus exclusively on the object – your thumbnail, or a small black dot drawn on a blank wall in front of you. Feel that the object is breathing and that you are breathing in time with it.

Narrow your gaze so that nothing else exists in your field of vision – only your thumbnail or the black dot on the wall. Imagine that the object is drawing you into it, as though it were sucking you in through a tube or a tunnel – all your thoughts, feelings and awareness is entering into the object. Nothing else exists, either within you or around you.

Imagine that you have become the object. There are no thoughts, no feelings, no distractions. Next imagine that from within the object, you are focusing your attention back onto your original self. Observe yourself, standing or sitting in perfect stillness and calm.

These exercises are difficult to master, and require persistent practise. Don’t give up! Your rewards are in the mail.