When our mind is focused, our energies are not dissipated on irrelevant activities or thoughts. This is why developing concentration is essential to anyone who aspires to take charge of his or her life. This skill is essential for every kind of success. Without it, our efforts get scattered, but with it, we can accomplish extraordinary things.
Concentration has many uses and benefits. It assists in studying and understanding faster, improves the memory, and helps in focusing on any task, job, activity or goal, and achieving it more easily and efficiently. It is also required for developing psychic powers and is a powerful tool for the efficient use of creative visualization.
When this ability is developed, the mind obeys us more readily and does not engage in futile, negative thoughts or worries. We gain mental mastery and we experience true peace of mind.
To develop this power, you need to train and exercise it. Forget all your excuses about not having the time or being too busy. Do not say that the circumstances are not appropriate or that you cannot find a quiet place to exercise. With a little planning, desire, and motivation you can always find the time to exercise each day, no matter how busy you are.
Practicing Concentration Exercises
Sharpening the needle of concentration requires practice, as everything else in life. Do you go to the gym? If you do, how many times during the week and for how long? Do you study a foreign language? If you do, how much time do you devote to it? Developing concentration is no different; training is required. Even ten minutes a day of concentration exercises will be very beneficial.
The mind does not like discipline and will resist your efforts to discipline it. It loves its freedom more than anything else and will try to stand in your way to master it, in any way it can. It will cause you to forget to do the exercises, tempt you to postpone performing them or make you feel too lazy. It will find many tricks to stop and disturb you, but you can and must be stronger.
The attention span of a goldfish is nine seconds; a human eight seconds! The frightening thing is you can’t do anything creative in eight seconds!
You will find below, some simple concentration exercises to perform. Always remember that the choice is yours, to be a slave to the mind and its whims, or to be its master. By practicing mental exercises, it is possible to train the mind and master it, and put it in its proper place, as your servant, and not as your boss and master.
You are neither the mind nor the thoughts that pass through it. Though it might be hard to accept this idea, the mind is not you, the real you, but only a tool that you use. It is an instrument, which has great value, but it has to be taught to obey you.
Most people believe that they are the mind, and erroneously believe that controlling the mind means holding themselves back and denying their freedom. They feel that controlling their mind is not natural, and that it is some sort of repression. These beliefs are not correct.
The proof that we are not the mind comes with training. Accept the idea in theory, and in time, as your control over your thoughts grows, you will know it as a fact. In reality, you, the real you, is the one mastering the mind. It is not the mind mastering itself.
Advice for Practicing Concentration Exercises
Find a place where you can be alone and undisturbed. You can sit crossed legged on the floor if you can, or on a chair. Sit with your spine erect. Take a few calm deep breaths and then relax your body. Direct the attention to your body and relax each muscle and part of it. I will now give you some exercises to practice.
Sit down to practice for about 10 minutes, and after a few weeks of training, lengthen the time to 15 minutes. Start with the first exercise, practicing it daily, until you are able to do it without any distractions or forgetfulness, and without thinking about anything else, for at least three continuous minutes. Every time you get distracted, start again, until the 10- or 15-minutes pass away. You have to be honest with yourself, and proceed to the next one, only after you are convinced that you have practiced it correctly and with full concentration.
No timetable can be given, as this may be frustrating. If for example, I tell you that a certain exercise has to be completed in a week, two things may happen. You may get disappointed, if you cannot get the desired concentration within a week, or you may move on without practicing the exercise correctly. Mastering the exercises successfully might take days, weeks, months and sometimes even more.
Put your whole attention into the exercises, and do not think about anything else. Be careful not to fall asleep, daydream or think about other matters. The moment you find yourself thinking about something else, stop the exercise and start again. After you become proficient, lengthen the time, and if possible, include another session in the afternoon. Do not attempt too much at the beginning, and don’t try to perform them all at once. Go slowly, without overdoing them or tensing your brain.
If you find it too difficult, or thoughts distract you and make you think about other matters, don’t despair. Everyone encounters difficulties along the way. If you persevere and never give up, in spite of difficulties and disturbances, success will crown your efforts. Remember, even those with powerful concentration have to exercise their minds.
It does not matter if your concentration is weak now, it can be developed and strengthened like any other ability, through training and investing the necessary time, energy, and earnestness. In time, you will find out that you can concentrate anywhere, anytime, no matter where you are. You will be able to focus your mind, think and function under the most trying circumstances, while remaining calm, relaxed and collected.
Now to the exercises: Some of them may be familiar to you, and some may seem too easy to perform. Some were taken from various sources, and others were created by me. For full benefit, it is advisable that you practice each exercise for one additional week, after you are convinced that you are practicing it correctly and with full attention.
Take a book and count the words in any one paragraph. Count them again to be sure that you have counted them correctly. Start with one paragraph and when it becomes easier, count the words in a whole page. Perform the counting mentally and only with your eyes, without pointing you finger at each word.
Count backwards in your mind, from one hundred to one.
Count in your mind from a hundred to one, skipping each three numbers, that is 100, 97, 94, etc.
Choose an inspiring word, or just a simple sound, and repeat it silently in your mind for five minutes. When your mind can concentrate more easily, try to reach ten minutes of uninterrupted concentration.
Take a fruit, an apple, orange, banana or any other fruit, and hold it in your hands. Examine the fruit from all its sides, while keeping your whole attention focused on it. Do not let yourself be carried away by irrelevant thoughts or associated thoughts that might arise, such as about the shop where you bought it, about how and where it was grown, its nutritive value, etc. Stay calm, while trying to ignore these thoughts and not be interested in them. Just look at the fruit, focus your attention on it without thinking about anything else, and examine its shape, smell, taste and the sensation it gives when touching and holding it.
Take a small simple object such as a spoon, a fork, or a glass. Concentrate on one of these objects. Watch the object from all sides without any verbalization, that is, with no words in your mind. Just watch the object without thinking with words about it.
Try for at least five minutes, to stay without thoughts. This exercise is to be attempted only after all the previous ones have been performed successfully. The previous exercises, if practiced correctly, will endow you with the ability to impose silence on your thoughts. In time it will become easier and easier.
Stay safe. Stay healthy. Serve others. And do what is right, not what is easy!