Do this simple exercise alone, or as a group, sharing the results. Read the passage between the two lines, top down, and find the total number of times the letter ‘a’ occurs in it. Count only the lower case ‘a’ s, ignoring the higher case.
Different methods of counting are suggested below. You have to write down the results of your counting at the end of each count.
“Of all the examples on mental conditioning, this is the most insulting one, for intelligent human beings. We see ads in newspapers and magazines, showing a celebrity (celeb) endorsing a product. We know many things in this game – that the celeb may not have used the product even once and he may be just selfishly selling his popular image to that company, to get a huge amount of money. He is most likely cheating us, by giving us the impression that he used that product, feels happy about it and hence suggesting us to use and benefit from it. We also know that the celeb gets his money out of all the monies that we, the buyers, pay for the product. In spite of knowing all this, we get influenced by the ad and the sale of that product goes up. Are we not indirectly paying the celeb to cheat us, without even realizing it? ____________________________________________________________________________________________
Count the total number of ‘a’ s in the above passage, counting top down. Write it down as result ‘1A’. Next, count the same letter, starting from the last letter upwards (bottom up) and write this number as result ‘1B’.
Both the numbers ‘1A’ and ‘1B’ will be different for most people! Repeat this process and you may be embarrassed at the recurring variations in the count of ‘a’ s! Done by a group of people, it will be amusing to find literate persons reporting different numbers, for such a childish task! There is no apparent justification for any difference. This exercise shows how your ‘Body’ (eyes, hand and brain) is bound to it’s habitual style of working. It seems to be unable to correctly count a letter, in spite of your best intention and efforts! Think about it.
Now, your analytical ‘Mind’ goes to work trying to fix this problem of not being able to get the same count every time. It comes up with this ‘Method 2’. See how the performance of your body and mind improves.
Point at each and every letter in the passage individually with the tip of your pen, before moving to the next letter (don’t make marks on the paper). Lift the tip of the pen every time you move from one letter to the next letter. Stop when you notice the first ‘a’. Breathe-in once and while breathing-out, silently speak the number ‘one’ because it is the first ‘a’. Continue to silently repeat the latest count, ‘one, one, one …so on’ and move on to the following letters. When you notice the second ‘a’, stop. Breathe-in once and while breathing-out, count ‘two’. Keep on repeating ‘two, two, two…so on’, till you notice the third ‘a’. Repeat this process till you reach the last letter in the passage. Write down the result as ‘2A’. Repeat this process starting from the last letter of the passage and going up. Write down the result as ‘2B’. You will find that the difference between these two numbers is much less than the difference between ‘1A’ and ‘1B’. But some small variations may still arise.
Put your Mind on the job again. Now it comes up with this ‘Method 3’ to count the number of ‘a’ s with higher accuracy.
Turn the page up side down. Count the inverted shape of ‘a’ following the rules of method 2. With this method, you will get almost correct results every time. Try any other letter using this method. The results will be equally impressive for individuals and for the group, compared with the other 2 methods.
What is the learning from this Exercise?
Your ‘BODY’ (eyes, hand and brain) is not trained or used to reading individual letters. It has been used millions of times, to look at only the first and last letter of a word and figure out the whole word in a flash. (Don’t believe me? Read this page in Wikipedia) That is how it reads so fast! To achieve your non- habitual goal of reading the individual letters without bothering about the words or their meaning, YOU have to use your MIND to develop an appropriate method and insist on your BODY to follow that method. The roles to be played by YOU, your MIND and your BODY to achieve your goals can be practically understood through this exercise.
It is another problem that your mind, which has to guide the body, wanders aimlessly and does not obey you, in spite of your best efforts. But you need not be a victim of the current state of your Body or Mind. To achieve your goals, it is YOUR job as the owner, to train your Mind and Body through appropriate mental and physical exercises as you would, for your pet dog. ’Focusing on breathing’ is one such simple and easy method, to train your Mind to concentrate on what you want and as long as you want.
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