Why do we need to concentrate?
To do anything successfully we need concentration. We often hear children being told to “concentrate”, but the very thing that is essential for success in all areas of life is not being taught properly in schools. Yes, there are many distractions in this world, but we have to be really honest with ourselves and ask ourselves who is responsible for what we give our focus to? Of course, ultimately we are 100% percent responsible for these choices. So concentration is an inner strength that, like an outer muscle, needs to be developed. From a meditation and spiritual point of view, progressing with your meditation is virtually impossible without proper concentration. It is something that Sri Chinmoy expanded upon many times.
Sri Chinmoy on the power of concentration: “All along the route to our destination are doubt-trees, insecurity-trees, hesitation-trees, anxiety-trees and worry-trees. They are lying across the road blocking our path. Concentration clears the road of these obstacles. It transforms doubt into faith, insecurity into security and so forth. Everything discouraging becomes encouraging and helpful as we move towards our destination. And that is only the first step. After concentration clears the road of confusion, meditation will purify and illumine our mind so that we see that the goal is not only right in front of us but also within us.”
The power of concentration
Can easily silence
All the clamours of the mind.
~ Sri Chinmoy
There are many exercises to help you develop your concentration. Here are a couple of great ones that can really help you:
The Golden Arc of Light exercise
Step 1 Place a lighted candle on a table in front of you.
Step 2 Settle into a comfortable position with your spine upright. You can be seated on the floor or in a chair. Your hands can be on your knees or in your lap.
Step 3 Breathe slowly and very softly.
Step 4 To begin with, just gaze at the candle as a whole until your breathing establishes a gentle rhythm.
Step 5 Now focus your attention only on the tiny candle flame. Make sure you are not staring or straining your eyes. If you can keep them half closed, that will help you to keep the candle flame in your field of vision and not be aware of your surroundings. Remember, concentration is one-pointed awareness. It does not look sideways or backwards.
Step 6 Feel that there is an arc of golden light connecting your spiritual heart and the flame. Each time you breathe in, you are receiving light from the flame, and each time you breathe out, you are offering your existence to the flame.
Step 7 You will feel that the flame has a living presence. Perhaps you will even feel that it represents your own existence—always reaching higher and higher, soaring upwards.
Step 8 Try to dwell in that state of union with the light of the candle for 5 or 10 minutes. Then gradually become aware of your surroundings again and relax.
The Black Dot exercise
Sri Chinmoy felt this exercise, if practised sincerely could help a seeker tremendously with their concentration power.
“First wash your face and eyes properly with cold water. Then make a black dot on the wall at eye level. Stand facing the dot, about ten inches away, and concentrate on it. After a few minutes, try to feel that when you are breathing in, your breath is actually coming from the dot, and that the dot is also breathing in, getting its breath from you. Try to feel that there are two persons: you and the black dot. Your breath is coming from the dot and its breath is coming from you. In ten minutes, if your concentration is very powerful, you will feel that your soul has left you and entered into the black dot on the wall. At this time try to feel that you and your soul are conversing. Your soul is taking you into the soul’s world for realisation, and you are bringing the soul into the physical world for manifestation. In this way you can develop your power of concentration very easily. But this method has to be practised. There are many things which are very easy with practice, but just because we do not practise them we do not get the result.”
~ Sri Chinmoy
Concentration and Sports – the winning edge?
Many great sports men and women have spoken of moments of absolute clarity before a major victory or event. They feel at peace with the race, game or task ahead. Nothing is forced and, as a result, victory or achievement just flows. Nine times Olympic golden medalist, Carl Lewis (a student and personal friend of Sri Chinmoy’s) had intense focus and used concentration and meditation techniques to quiet himself before a big race. One technique he used was focusing on the furthest sound he could hear. Whatever he did worked. He broke numerous world records in the 100 metres and long jump, still has one of the world’s fastest splits for a relay leg and never false started.
“I would start 100 metres and the person would say, come to your mark, and I would get down to my mark and then I would clear my mind,” says Lewis. “Just go quiet and try to listen for the farthest sound away from you. I had generally the fastest reaction time of any of the athletes because I would clear my mind and listen for the gun. Just having my peace, where it all stops and you’re just aware of where you need to be. I think there’s a source of strength in that silence because the 100 metres is the ultimate dichotomy—it’s total relaxation and explosion. Every record I set, I knew it was a record because it was the easiest race I ran.”
“Concentration means inner vigilance and alertness,” says Sri Chinmoy. “There are thieves all around us and within us. Fear, doubt, worry and anxiety are inner thieves that are trying to steal our inner poise and peace of mind. When we learn how to concentrate, it is very difficult for these forces to enter into us. If doubt enters into our mind, the power of concentration will tear doubt to pieces. If fear enters into our mind, the power of concentration will chase away our fear….Concentration is the surest way to reach our goal, whether the goal is God-realisation or merely the fulfillment of human desires. A real aspirant sooner or later acquires the power of concentration either through the Grace of God, through constant practice or through his own aspiration.
Concentration, Meditation and Contemplation: The Three Rungs
Sri Chinmoy says that concentration, meditation and contemplation are like the three rungs of a ladder. “First comes concentration, then comes meditation and then comes contemplation. They are like three rungs of a ladder. First you concentrate, then you meditate and then you contemplate. If any of the rungs are missing, you may lose your footing. When you concentrate, you try to focus your one-pointed attention on a small object. Then, like a bullet or an arrow, your concentration-power tries to penetrate into the object. Meditation is totally different. Meditation is vastness. In meditation you are dealing with the vast sky or the vast sea—anything that is larger than the largest. In meditation, you try to make your mind calm, quiet, tranquil and vacant so that you can become one with the Vast. When you are concentrating, you are concentrating on the smallest possible thing. Like an arrow, you are trying to pierce the veil of ignorance. When you are meditating, you are dealing with what is vaster than the vastest. All around you are seeing Infinity.”
You can see and hear some more words on concentration on this short video and also see Sri Chinmoy meditating.
Source: Sri Chinmoy TV
In our free meditation classes we try a number of other exercises using eyes open concentration methods. Candles for example, are effective to practise concentration. We also do other breathing concentration exercises and offer a lot of practical advice. So visit our calendar for our latest activities, meditation classes and seminars in Perth or phone 6161 4156.