How to Increase Concentration And Focus with Meditation
Learning how to concentrate and focus the mind is crucial to living a productive and fulfilling life, especially in this age where we are bombarded by all sorts of media vying for our time, attention, and resources.
An effective solution for combating these distractions is meditation. Nearly all techniques for improving the mind involve some kind of focus meditation. So if you’re not able to concentrate and you want to increase your focus, read on because this guide is for you.
How to Prepare for Meditation
Some things to keep in mind before you meditate:
- Settle in a relaxing position. You can do the half-lotus pose or full-lotus. Whatever seating position you choose, make sure your spine is straight and you feel relaxed.
- Sit still. Any physical movement will affect your efforts of focusing. It’s normal to have many distracting thoughts in the beginning, but do your best to focus on meditating. Persist any physical movement during the first five minutes and you’ll feel a natural calmness in your body afterwards.
- Let your eyelids relax when you close your eyes. Your eyes should be closed or partially open as you do this. This prevents eye strain which can break the focus of your meditation.
Meditation Exercises to Improve Focus
Now that you’re ready, it’s time to pick a meditation technique. There are three types of techniques for focus meditation that you can do. They are zazen (concentration on breathing), vipassana (concentration on sensations), tratak (concentration on an object):
1. Breathing Concentration (Pranayama)
This technique involves just concentrating on your own breathing. Do this in a seated position with your spine erected.
Start by inhaling slowly and deeply, focusing on the feeling of the air filling your lungs and belly. Hold it for a few seconds and then, exhale to the same count. You can change the count depending on what’s most comfortable to you. You’ll know what works best for you the longer you are into this practice.
If your mind wanders during meditation, don’t freak out. Let those thoughts pass without getting attached and gently bring back your attention to your breathing again.
2. Sensation Concentration (Vipassana)
This is another beginner technique that can help you better concentrate as you’re forced to only focus on your physical sensations. To start, find a comfortable sitting position whether it’s half lotus, full lotus, or cross-legged. Start focusing on your breath. If you catch your mind wandering, go back to your breath. It’s almost like Pranayama except, you don’t want to change or manipulate the rhythm of your breathing. You’re simply observing.
The feeling you get after doing this technique is almost enlightening as you recognize thoughts for what they really are, just thoughts. It eradicates all mental impurities allowing you to focus better on things that truly matter.
3. Concentrate on an Object (Trataka)
This method of meditation involves concentrating on a single point such as a small object like a flame of a candle or a black dot. Other people also use sacred symbols, a word, or phrase. Try to avoid objects that might evoke unpleasant emotions. It will only distract you from meditating. The goal is to put your attention completely on the object and nothing else. If you’re using a candle, better to do it in a dark room so you can concentrate on the flame even more.
If a thought arises while you’re trying to meditate, dismiss it, and bring back the attention to the object. After looking at it for some time, close your eyes and imagine the position of the object in your mind. This helps boost concentration and memory the longer you do it.
If you’re just starting out, 5-10 minutes of meditation a day is already enough. Gradually increase the duration as you go. The longer you are into doing this practice, the better your concentration power will be.