It is a great concern for many people as to this question – How to concentrate. Nowadays, this question has come to prominence. We are on a journey of information super-highway. In our day and age, we have to process a humongous amount of information. Everywhere there are shiny objects to distract our mind! To put it in proper words, a wealth of information is actually poverty of attention. So knowing how to concentrate has become a subject of utmost importance.
When we talk about the wealth of information, we generally tend to think about perceptible, sensible, measurable information. It’s true that these kinds of information distract our mind and create a poverty of attention. But there is also a volume of subtle level of information coming to our brain through our senses, or happening inside our body, and these pieces of information mean a lot to the making of the concept of self.
In this post, we will promote mindfulness for the purpose of seeking a way to increase concentration. Mindfulness is the awareness of the present moment on purpose in a non-judgmental way. By practising mindfulness, we are trained to live in the present moment. But why is it important to engage in mindfulness to increase concentration, or why is it so hard to concentrate? We will seek an answer to all these questions.
Every second, our brain is overwhelmed with 11 million bits of information. The conscious attention of our brain is not capable of processing such a humongous amount of information within a second. Our conscious attention can handle 60f bits of information per second. The surprising fact is that information processed by the conscious mind is very meagre. Information about what is happening at the present moment constitutes 99.9994% of the unconscious mind. And this information might not filter its way up to our conscious attention.
If we are really serious about increasing concentration, our next concern should be about how to concentrate the mind. In this connection, we should be aware of the ill effects of multi-tasking. Multi-tasking is the direct opposite of concentration. It is detrimental to our mental health. It releases the stress hormone cortisol in our bloodstream. Multi-tasking is the cause of impulsiveness and low self-control.
Human beings are the creatures of choice. But it is also important to realize what choice is important or what is not, what is a biased choice, or which is affected by our petty attachment with negative thoughts and emotions. If we know the purity of thoughts, we can be aware of the practical aspects of the choices we make, like how to concentrate on work.
Concentration is extremely important in many life situations. How to concentrate on studies for long hours during exams is a concern for the students. How to concentrate on one thing is the ultimate question for people suffering from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.
Mindfulness in answering how to concentrate
I want to reiterate what I said above that mindfulness is the awareness of the present moment on purpose in a non-judgmental way. We have to fully realize and feel to our deepest core that we exist in this very moment with our heart beating, breathing in and breathing out.
Here, I should bring up an example from the life story of the Russian writer Dostoyevsky as depicted in his memoir: A Notebook From The House Of The Dead. It is worthwhile to mention that Dostoyevsky is known for his profundity in dealing with human psychology and philosophy.
In the late 1840s, Dostoyevsky became concerned with sociological issues. During that time, the political and social climate in Russia was so turbulent that it affected young Dostoyevsky’s mind. He became part of a group that supported revolutionary ideals. Their activity became intense. In an unfavourable turn of events, Dostoyevsky and some of his comrades were arrested by the then Tsar government. He was sentenced to death along with his comrades.
Dostoyevsky and his fellow comrades were brought near to a deep ditch. It was preordained that they were to be shot dead by a firing squad just after six minutes.
As far as we know from the account of Dostoyevsky, the ‘final’ six minutes were the moments of his life. Evey minutes and every second became so deeply sensational and significant that he never felt such a deep sense of meaning in his begone years. He felt every throb of his heart, became deeply concentrated on his every breath, experienced the existence of his body like never before. The gleam of the church spire situated at a distance reflected in the form of a very beautiful yet mysterious thing that gave meaning to his life!
The intense feeling of the sense of self became dominant. At times Dostoyevsky felt what it would be if he got a chance to live life again. It would be like an eternity if life grants him another chance to live. When the gleam from the church dome came, this mysterious feeling became very intense, and he wished his life be ended with a bullet shot as soon as possible!
At the last minute, a horseman came riding with a white flag holding in his hands. He declared that the death sentence had been revoked, and the death sentence had been converted into life imprisonment in Siberia!
The very ‘last’ minutes of Dostoyevsky’s life taught him a new lesson of life. It taught him that every moment of life can be lived fully and meaningfully. This special realization and feeling can be compared with the deep concentration part of mindfulness meditation. In the very first place, paying attention to every moment became deep concentration. At this level, the sense of self is felt at an intense level. This feeling may give you ecstasy or new meaning to life.
There is another lesson that should be taken from this special life experience that our happiness does not depend on how long we live. We can be as ecstatic as possible even in a short span of time if we live life mindfully by paying attention to every moment without attachment to any feeling or reaction, whether good or bad; you cannot label any sensation or feeling in mindfulness meditation.
How can I concentrate and focus
With a non-judgmental concentration on breathing, we can start mindfulness meditation. This is called Ana pan in the Pali language. The latter part of mindfulness meditation is body-scan meditation. In this part, we scan every part of our body sensation and vibration with conscious attention in a non-judgmental way. This part fosters a deeper level of concentration. To know more about mindfulness meditation, click here.
Mindfulness meditation can teach you how to improve concentration and focus.
Repeated practice of mindfulness meditation enables us to concentrate on one thing important to us. Please be mindful of the fact that concentration on one thing is the result of mindfulness meditation. During mindfulness meditation, there is no need to focus on any external objects.
How to concentrate quickly
Before you learn how to meditate under expert guidance, you can develop some insightful habits to concentrate quickly. You can observe everything that happens around you. You don’t have to react or arrive at a hasty conclusion. You just have to calmly observe everything and concentrate on the inter-connectivity of everything. But do not stress your mind at all to think about anything as far as mindfulness is concerned. Please note that stress is not meditation.
The habit of keenly observing things or happenings can be called applied mindfulness. In fact, observing everything mindfully will become sharper after doing a few days of mindfulness meditation under the guidance of a qualified mindfulness trainer. In spite of this fact, I, as a mindfulness promoter and applied mindfulness coach, would like you to foster some habits of keen observation so that you better understand and enjoy the actual session of mindfulness meditation.
Mindfulness meditation is indeed a training of our brain circuits in so far as the power of concentration is concerned. In this method of meditation, concentration is bound to instigate positivity because the medium of concentration is natural, namely, breath as well as body sensation and vibration. We just attend to these natural mediums with our consciousness in a non-judgmental way. This method contributes to increased concentration and memory power.
Why is it so hard to concentrate
The psychologist Richard Davidson and his fellow scientists are the persons to study the impact of mindfulness on the mental health of people. Their study found that 47% of the American people have the problem of attention deficit in their works. The study found that people with the attention-deficit problem were unhappy. Adolescent suicide rates had doubled in 2014 comparing to the data shown in 2008. They had less power of concentration.
Lack of attention is associated with anxiety, fear, depression, and stress. To overcome such negative emotions, mindfulness meditation is prescribed by neuroscientists.
The people who have less concentration have the problem of distractibility. Distractibility leads to loneliness (76% of middle-aged Americans feel loneliness leading to a steep rise in suicide rates), negative self-talk and depression as well as loss of meaning and purpose.
The above points prove that concentration is not as easy as it seems! In our mindfulness meditation terms, it is said that the nature of our mind is like a monkey whose nature is to jump from one branch to another branch of a tree. Likewise, our mind also pays attention to this and that within a short span of time.
As discussed above, we know that our brain takes in millions of bits of information per second, it seems so hard to concentrate. But the good news is that mindfulness meditation provides us with a way through which our consciousness permeates through the source of consciousness (brain) itself, and influences all information that is stored in a reproducible or hidden form in our subconscious mind.
I hope my esteemed readers has got an idea about how to concentrate.