With so many busy and stressful lives, meditation and mindfulness are very hot topics right now in the Yoga community as well as mainstream mental health, psychotherapeutic and medical worlds. As anyone who has practiced meditation for any length of time may attest, the hype is warranted. Also, more and more research is showing that the benefits of practice on mental and physical well-being is clear.
For many of us who are beginning the practice of meditation the phrase seen on so many bumper stickers: “Meditation, Its Not What You Think” is all too real. Though most do have positive experiences even from the beginning it is a shock for many just how challenging it can be to simply sit and be with oneself.
With few exisiting habits or skills in working with the mind the parade of thoughts, feelings and other distractions is the rule, and any moments of calm are the happy exceptions. Experienced meditators across many traditions describe this as a manifestation of “Monkey Mind”; this expereince of hopping from one thought or experience to another without rest. Meditation practice is the process of taming the monkey to gain a degree of control over its activity.
It is no wonder many become discouraged and give up the practice. A common lament is they just think to much to meditate. This is a variant of the theme beginners who feel discouraged in the initial phase of Yoga practice express that they aren’t flexible enough to do Yoga. This is not so, of course, and an unfortunate early form of obstacle and resistance that will keep the novice from solving those very difficulties.
It is in these casse that the need may be greatest as stress and it deleterious effects may be undermining health and wellbeing and ruining a great opportunity to enjoy a more peaceful, healthy and enjoyable life.
In classical sitting meditative disciplines a more self-accepting attitude as well as a strong ethos that demands cosistent and persistant practice exists to overcome these initial obstacles. For many who are navigating busy and overwhelming lives though, recognizing and adapting the practice itself may be the solution.
Below are some steps to employ the busy mind in strategies to develop and expand upon basic mental focus skills that canin turn build the concentration, contemplation and meditation strength in a more incremental ways. This approach recognizes that though the mind may resist attempts to slow down, as even modest gains are made the draw to take care of your inner self can grow.
Here you may learn how to stay focused through the turmoil of life by following a few tips that teach you how to concentrate on your goal. Be as patient and accepting of yourself as you can. Again, the support of a teacher of a friend with experience can offer helpful support and guidance.
One of the main problems that deter a person’s success is their lack of concentration. Lapses encourage disturbances to get in the way and stall progress. If ones wishes to proceed on their road to success, it is imperative they learn how to concentrate. Here are some easy to learn exercises that are easy to implement.
1) Silence or Noise:
Most people cannot concentrate when it is too noisy, but others work better with music or others in the midst of a crowded room. If you are not aware as yet what best suits you, then try out the different environments. How? Take a notepad and a pencil or pen with you and try and write down a letter in all the three circumstances in a set amount of time. Five minutes. That is all you will need to determine where your source of concentration lies. How? Check not only for length but also for development as that is more important.
2) Focal Point:
Every morning, before you leave for work or on the way, stare at any object for five minutes. You can do this while in the toilet, car or bus. You will find this difficult, but whatever happens, do not move your gaze away. Hold it. Wait. And then, as the minutes pass you may find yourself deeply meditating about things that happened to you yesterday or challenges you have to face in a few minutes. Congratulations. You have begun to explore the art of concentration.
3) Deep Breathing:
In the beginning, you can do this while staring at the object from tip number two, but if you wish to move towards real concentration, do this separately. Sit down on the floor or a chair with your spine straight. If its hard, place a cushion. Close your eyes. Breathe. Count the number of inhales. When you have reached 100, start counting backwards but this time count the exhales. If you get lost or distracted start over. Mastering this will take you a while, but once you do move on to other kinds of mathmatical calculations such as naming the months of the year from December backwards or alphabetically. After that, make up exercises as you like.
Focus on an animal: cat, dog or even ant or bird. Follow their every movement as if they exist in a vaccumm. Study every tiny spot on their body. The point of this is to learn how to diversify your concentration in such a way that movement does not deter you from your goal.
Practice the above four tips and like magic, you may start enjoying life to its fullest because you will be able to focus on the things you want to focus on and disregard those that disrupt. Practice the above tips daily and you will be that much more closer to achieving your dreams and goals. As always please read my website disclaimer before beginning this or any practice described here.