So, it is absolutely evident that man in his ordinary state has bad command of his energy of attention. Although every child was forced to focus on the studied material at school, the effect was often the opposite. Instead of learning how to manage his or her attention, the child developed the reaction of extreme reluctance to studies and disregard of any personal development efforts.
It sometimes seems that many of the present-day young people have a great aversion for reading books only because they have spent eleven years in the secondary school.
Man’s attention is generally subordinated to his desires and fears as well as the impulses that instantaneously occur in the body as sensations, in the mind as ideas etc. Man himself can manage these processes in part only (and any way under the influence of the desire or fear), but supposes erroneously that he actively manages and participates in the switch of attention.
A small experiment is enough to make sure that we cannot hold our attention. Let’s close our eyes and observe our breathing. We can observe how air touches our nostrils at the inhale or how it fills the chest and goes off at the exhale. At the same time, we must hold attention on observation of breathing without letting it get distracted. Our task is to remember about the observation, and at the same time not to float far away together with the flow of our thoughts. I think if man has not practiced such things before, he will not last even a minute and forget about his decision to observe how he inhales and exhales. This experiment is perfect demonstration of how we can control our attention and manage our inner world.