Concentration can be defined as the ability to focus your complete attention on a specific topic or task at hand while ignoring the surroundings and happenings around you. Focus can be classified into two categories; external and internal. While external focus deals with the awareness that a sportsman maintains of all his team members as well as the position of his opponents, internal focus is the actual act of immersing oneself in a specific topic or activity. The brain functions at various wavelengths each associated with a specific brain activity; beta waves are responsible for the intense level of concentration and focus that you experience in the morning. Fortunately, it is possible to put your brain waves in the beta frequency at will through meditation. Here is a look at some yogasanas and meditation techniques that will help you to significantly improve concentration.
Tips#1: Concentrate on your breathing: This is the most basic yet a remarkably potent meditation technique. Start in the shavasana (dead person) position or you could use the traditional position of legs crossed over each other in a sitting position with the gyan mudra assumed. This is when your arms are extended out; palms facing upwards and you touch the tip of your index finger to the tip of your thumb, exerting gentle pressure as the other three fingers are kept straight and extended out.
Now, while in this position, make a conscious effort to expand your abdomen and chest cavity as you inhale and pull the abdominal muscles in while exhaling. Start with a deep and prolonged intake of breath and then continue breathing deeply ensuring that you only inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth. This is the correct way to breathe as recommended in the yogic tradition and will help you to achieve a relaxed and calmer state of mind, as you provide more oxygen to your body while purging the carbon dioxide out of your system.
Tip #2: The shavasana position can be assumed by lying on your back, feet apart and arms at your sides with palms facing up. Close your eyes but try hard to not fall asleep. This is a deep meditation technique, so it will be incredibly relaxing and you might doze off which should be avoided. Now, breathe in through your nose and exhale through your mouth like in the previous exercise. However, this time you should concentrate on the sensation that you feel in your nose as the cool air enters the pulmonary system and the warm air exits out of the mouth.
Tips#3: Another way to concentrate on your breathing and achieve a heightened state of awareness and alertness which in turn will aid in improving concentration is through the use of the sound of ‘aum’. In the traditional sitting position of meditation, start by breathing in as you say aum, take a deep breath that fills your lungs with air completely continue to say ‘aum’ till you can no longer inhale. While exhaling, use the word ‘rheem’, exhale out slowly till you run out of breath. ‘Aum’ and ‘rheem’ are both words found in ancient Sanskrit scriptures; their recitation is known to bring about total relaxation of the mind and the body and make you feel at peace and at one with the divine.
Tips#4: This meditation technique is not only very simple but can be learnt in a matter of five minutes, yet it is incredibly potent in relaxing the mind and the body. Start by sitting with your spine straight, in a taut posture. Your feet should be flat on the floor as you sit in a chair or you could fold your legs backwards with your heels and sole facing upwards and your body resting on your calf muscles.. Your arms and palms should be turned upwards and placed at the joint between your torso and your thighs.
In this exercise you endeavor to systematically relax and tense up the body to achieve superlative relaxation. Inhale sharply through the nose; go for one short inhalation followed by a long exhalation. Now, tense your body, every muscle from your face to your toes. You should feel the energy vibrating through your skin. Hold your breath and the body position for 5 seconds before forcibly exhaling the air out of your system with one quick exhalation followed by a long slow breathing out. Feel the tension being thrown out of system with the air, repeat several times
Tips#5: While in the shavasana position, increase physical awareness of everything around you. With your eyes closed imagine moving around the room barefoot, feel the floor or the carpet on your feet, visualize every aspect of the room in precise detail as you imagine yourself taking a leisurely walk across the area exploring every nook and corner. In the beginning, you will find it difficult to imagine things accurately, including their visual and physical feel but as your focus and concentration level increases, you will be able to see the colors of the various items distinctly and even feel their texture on your finger tips all as you lay down on the floor.
Tips#6: In the next technique, you will take long deep breaths as you try to nourish your brain and relax your body and mind with more oxygen. This technique is known as measured breathing and should be done three to six times. Start by breathing in as you count to eight, you will need to continue the inhalation till you reach the number eight, follow this by exhaling to the count of eight. Without pausing to take a break go into an inhalation right after the exhalation counting to eight for each. You can vary the count according to your breathing capacity. You will find that in the beginning you may only be able to reach a count of three or four.
Tips#7: You can also raise your physical awareness by imagining various sensations in different parts of your body. For instance, while in the shavasana position, try to imagine cold water dripping on your feet, or the feel of a soft rug on your soles. You will need to concentrate hard to imagine the actual feel of water or the rug.
Tips#8: A slight variation of this exercise is to sit in a comfortable position with a rose placed in a glass in front of you. Look closely at the rose, noticing every fold of the petal, the shades created due to the light and shadows. Imagine how soft the petals will feel on your finger tips as you touch the rose while looking at it. Now, close your eyes and concentrate on visualizing the rose as you saw it. You should be able to distinctly see every petal and even feel it on your finger tips. In the beginning, your mind will wander to the other things in the room or another thought process all together. However, you will need to teach yourself to concentrate hard on the rose. This will not only help you to calm your senses but will enhance your concentration abilities immensely.
Tips#9: Finally, trataka is another technique that works very well when used to improve concentration. Sit in a sparsely furnished room with a lighted candle placed about three feet away from you in your line of sight; that is, you should not have to tilt your head to see it. Now, look at the flame for as long as you can without blinking your eyelids. When you can no longer hold the urge to blink, close your eyes and shift the image of the flame to the center of your forehead where your eyebrows meet, keep your eyes closed and do not open them as long as you can visualize the flame and its brightness. In the beginning, you may not be able to go beyond a few seconds or a minute but as you practice, you will be able to continue the visualization process for twenty minutes or longer.
You will find that these techniques and yogasans will not only help to improve your concentration but will also prove effective in helping you relax in the most stressful situations and will aid in enhancing enhance mental wellbeing. We hope that this has answered your question on how to improve concentration with meditation techniques.
Toshi O. is a retired amateur Muay Thai fighter who also consults with some of the top pharmaceutical companies in the world.
Website Affiliations include:
How to Improve Concentration – A Guide to Improve Concentration