It must be THE most asked question to anyone who has gone beyond the first couple steps in Bardon's IIH. I think the problem is mostly due to it being the most poorly explained section in Bardon's book. In some ways it is like a first initiation, a test, if you can figure it out then the rest will seem like a breeze...well maybe all the rest save soul mirror questions. I speak of course of Bardon's thought control.
There is a multitude of things I can say, have said and probably will say on the subject because there is always a new wave of initiates trying to wade through the confusion of this exercise. I answered an email last night and figured it was time for me to make this a blog all on its own to make it easier to digest. Here is the email edited a bit:
Everyone is different, never beat yourself up about your progress as long as you keep at it! What sort of concentration work have you been doing? Do you record the interruptions? Have they increased, decreased, stayed the same, are they as strong as they were when you first started? How long did you practice observation of thoughts before moving on to single focus? What are you focusing on for single focus? What are the nature of these interruptions? These are all important questions you should be asking yourself. What may seem like interruptions may just be interjections along the lines of your single focus. Without evaluation and trying to understand these distractions you cannot properly progress, they are not obstacles, they are lessons!
It is also possible you are not properly understanding the exercises! Bardon says you just to be sufficiently proficient at the task and not a perfect master to move forward. Can you wash dishes for 10 minutes and focus on dish washing and not go off on long tangent day dreams not focusing on the task at hand? While doing this if a thought pops in like "remember to pay the electric bill" that is not a failure that is a success but with one infraction! When doing the morning or night exercise if you pick a line of reasoning you wish to focus on maybe some aspect of the soul mirror and focusing on just that let us consider the following:
Focus on: Positive attitude
What is a positive attitude? When do I experience it? In what situations do I feel it more, in what situations do I feel it less? When I feel it more what traits in body position, thoughts, and feelings arise? Where do my eyes move when I have a positive attitude? What are the color, quality, direction, proximity of the thoughts that arise when I experience a positive attitude? When I have a negative attitude what are the colors, qualities, direction, proximity of the thoughts that arise and how do they differ from the positive version? What are the major factors in my life that I can work on to be more positive, the minor factors?
ANYTHING in relation to the above is a success. However marks against success would include:
What is on TV later (unless that show makes you have a positive attitude, if so why?) I wonder what X is up to later this evening? (Does X bring out a positive attitude? If so why? If you can link it it is a success and not a mark against) My foot is cramping (if you focus on this for a few seconds mark it as a minus, if you focus exclusively on this for a few minutes then a major mark against, if the experience is just there and not distracting you it is a success.)
See what I mean? You may already be quite the master of thought control and not even realize it!
Try a mantra for a week. Focus solely on the mantra day and night, when thoughts pop up, double down on the mantra. Keep it up, it will be hard at first but keeping at it will show your level of ability and strengthen your focus. The mantra does not have to be some arcane magic word, it can be something simple like "Happy" "Focus" Life" "Beauty" "Patience" "God" "Holy" or whatever, think of a quality you want, create an image for it and keep the image in your mind, making it bigger, smaller, closer, farther, change colors, and keep chanting the word in your mind, try and experience the mantra. For example, "Happy" Find an image that makes you happy, keep that in mind and keep chanting happy. Draw the image as best you can, listen to music that makes you happy, watch happy movies all while chanting "Happy" in your mind. You will experience different levels of focus and Samadhi with the idea but that is not the goal, the goal is to experiment and play, to see what happens, to do your best. You will fail, you will lose track, you will have moments of perfect focus, you will get bored, you will get excited. After a week you may feel it is on auto pilot and just doing it to do it, don't let that happen, BE IN THAT MOMENT and really experience it! After this work it should be a lot easier to spend 10 minutes focusing on a single train of thought.
Hopefully that response sets us on a brighter path.
Now let us consider some other things. First Bardon teaches thought control like a contractor explains building a house in the following: first lay a foundation, then supports, then a frame for the roof and once that is sufficiently built, finish the house. A little more detail would have been greatly welcomed by many a student.
Taking in the above email response, let us consider the fact most of us do not understand what thoughts are, where they originate, why they originate and why they take the forms they do. Now there are many good ideas, hypothesis and theories on thoughts. I highly recommend http://www.amazon.com/Origin-Consciousness-Breakdown-Bicameral-Mind/dp/0618057072/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1409976621&sr=1-1&keywords=bicameral+mind+jaynes
Drink in the contents of those three links and consider children do not have thoughts, they say whatever comes through them. We learn to create a filter for our thoughts and keep them to ourselves, however we still develop muscle tensions and movements while we think. Pay attention as you read these words and focus on your jaw, throat, face and brow. You will notice slight, twitches and tics as you are reading because it is still "saying" these things just silently.
So, how do we clear out these old thoughts, put our house in order and make it a nicer environment?
So, lets say we are about to do some thought control:
1.Do some physical exercises that contract and release all the muscles in your body several times relaxing.
3. Sit down in asana and begin thought control work.
3.A Start quietly observing your thoughts for a couple minutes. They will slow down after a while, just let it flow naturally.
3.B Select a thought that seems the most persistent and focus on it, exhausting it by thinking on every possible aspect you can think of. Eventually the mind will tire of it.
4.C Allow the mind to empty and any thought that arises just ignore it, eventually none will come. There are several levels of vacancy of mind, the only one truly required is to not have thoughts for 10 minutes. You can move on to the rest of the work. However if you want to go deeper you can reach a state where all experience vanishes and it feels like you are just pure consciousness floating in void, seconds can be minutes, minutes seconds, time does not exist and really you don't either.
If after reading all the available material above, studying it, practicing it and then doing Bardon's thought control you still have problems then ya we have problems. Trust me though, working on all the above seriously then doing thought control is a what should be the first chapter of Bardon's step 1, guess it would be too big a book though.