The goals of shamatha practice [Sanskrit: meditative quiescence] are to quiet the noise that bedevils the untrained mind, in which one’s focus darts from one sight or sound or thought to another like a dragonfly, and replace it with attentional stability and clarity. Those two qualities of attention … allow the practitioner to gain insight into the nature of mind and human experience.
To do this, yogis cultivate a sense of mental and physical relaxation from which attentional stability follows. That enables the mind to focus either on an object in the outside world or on a thought or feeling generated within the mind, something that in a person less practiced in attentional training tends to vanish like surf on the sand.
A mind trained in shamantha is better able to resist distraction and feels a sense of peace and calm. Attentional clarity, which follows from attentional stability, is the ability to focus on a chosen object with vividness and in sharp detail, no longer dulled by the boredom or mental fidgets typical of the untrained mind.
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Begley, S. (2007). Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain: How a New Science Reveals Our Extraordinary Potential to Transform Ourselves (1st ed.). Ballantine Books. Ch. 9, p. 214
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