Do you often find it difficult to concentrate? Your mind wanders whenever you are trying to focus your attention on something, whether that be the radio playing on your commute, a presentation at work or someone telling you a long drawn out story at work. Is there a way to help you gain better focus and concentration?
Believe it or not, meditation may be one of the best ways to help you improve this skill. Learn to improve your concentration in both your personal and professional life with these five meditation techniques.
1. Tratak meditation
Tratak meditation has its roots in hath yoga, the goal of which is to align yourself with a spiritual endpoint or sensation. Because Tratak meditation is all about focusing – in most cases, on a fixed point or thought – it is a great method for helping you further develop your ability to concentrate on things for long periods of time. Many experts suggest focusing on the flame of a candle because it is a bright object that gives off light and heat (energy) while remaining relatively still. It is also a small point of focus, which makes it easier to concentrate on.
The real key to successful Tratak meditation is that after you focus on the flame, you should try closing your eyes and picturing the flame in your mind just as you saw it when your eyes were open. This requires a lot of concentration, but doing it repeatedly will not only relax you – it will also train you to focus your attention and form a picture in your mind even when you can’t see anything physically in front of you.
2. “Breath counting” meditation
Have you ever thought about the fact that you breathe continuously every single day without having to remind yourself how it’s done? Sometimes proper meditation is all about becoming more aware of the processes we no longer pay attention to. That, in turn, improves concentration significantly. Breath counting is about more than just breathing in and out with your eyes closed. This technique forces you to focus on a normally involuntary activity, which is the perfect mental exercise.
Start by inhaling slowly. Once you have inhaled as much air as your lungs can hold, exhale the air slowly – don’t puff it all out at once. When you have released all the air from your lungs, say out loud, “One.” You will continue this pattern, counting all the way up until you reach ten. Then you count backwards again until you get back to one. The catch is that, if you lose your focus and forget which number you are on, you have to start over. This is the part of breath counting meditation that forces you to develop more refined concentration, so you don’t lose your place.
3. Mindfulness meditation
Mindfulness meditation is all about paying attention to your surroundings and forcing yourself to snap to attention when your mind starts to wander off. To be mindful means to shut out distractions and thoughts that cause your mind to wander too far in the wrong direction for too long.
You might hear the word meditation and think you always have to stop what you’re doing, sit still, close your eyes and engage in some kind of deep breathing exercise, but that isn’t always the case with every kind of meditation technique. One of the best benefits of mindfulness meditation is that you can do it almost anywhere in the middle of everyday activities. Take eating for example. You can practice concentration by simply counting how many times you chew a bite of food, or counting how many seconds pass between one bite and the next. It not only makes you more aware of your surroundings and what you are doing, but it also helps you maintain better concentration.
4. Object focus meditation
This is like tratak meditation, but it’s more about removing yourself from your surroundings and in some way aligning your thoughts and sensations with an object you have placed in front of you. The goal of object focus meditation is to essentially forget about your surroundings and focus only on one stationary thing in your direct line of sight for as long as possible, also different from mindfulness.
You can choose whichever object you want to focus on, as long as it will sit completely still and doesn’t have anything on or around it that will distract you, such as words or images. The point is to focus so much on that object that you begin to feel that you and that object are “one.” By experiencing this kind of connection with that object, you are showing that you are concentrating about as heavily as you can. Doing this regularly can help you better concentrate on things in everyday life when needed.
5. Vipassana meditation
Vipassana is a form of Buddhist meditation that involves focusing completely on sensation – particularly, everything you feel physically as you breathe in and out from your abdomen. By focusing solely on your breathing, you gain a heightened awareness of every single movement and sensation your body endures as it is performing an action you very rarely stop to take notice of.
Your abdomen rises and falls as you breathe, especially when you breathe deeply and steadily. It is also important to sit up straight with good posture so that you can breathe properly; as your diaphragm expands and shrinks, various movements occur internally to allow for this continuous shifting. You are advised to focus on these movements and to not allow your mind to wander in order to practice effective concentration.
Learning how to better concentrate on things in your everyday life can help you improve your productivity, your relationships and can even reduce stress – especially if you use meditation to do so. You can also use improved concentration as a method for focusing on the good things in your life when other things are going wrong. However you use it, meditation is a great way to improve. Start today.