5 Powerful Ways To Improve Your Concentration In Your Meditation Practice
I’ve been a meditation junkie for about four years now, and even with a consistent (read: semi-consistent) daily practice, I still find that my mind slips into deep thought, and I lose concentration. I would have thought by now, I would have become enlightened, and I could hold my focus for a long time.
I joke, of course, and understand it’s a lifelong practice of gaining a more profound and more in-depth understanding of yourself and bring all the benefits of meditation into your life, but there are ways to improve your concentration and to help you stayed focused, which is what we’re going to explore today.
Perhaps the most common way to improve your concentration while meditating is to count your breaths. You do this by counting one on the inhale, two on the exhale, three on the inhale, and so on.
“Always try and count the number of the pause between the inhale and the exhale, and vice versa, so right at the end of the last breath. Do one to ten and then start back at one. You can then go to 20, 30, and then 50. When you’ve mastered this, you can then only count at the end of each exhale,” explains Jenny Arnold, a blogger at 1 Day 2 write and Australia 2 write.
It’s hard to do this at first, even just to get to ten on really distracted days, but it’s a great way to improve your concentration.
2. Watch a fire
Lots of people use candles while meditating, and this should come as no surprise. Candles are beautiful, and their flames are mesmerizing. Staring into them and watching them dance in the stillness is a great way to maintain and improve your concentration and bring a whole new level of peace and serenity to your meditation practices. Just watch the flame gently. There’s no need to hard focus or stare, just a soft gaze as it flickers. Of course, when you’re using fire, you need to make sure you’re safe, and nothing is going to get burned!
3. Focus on your body
This is my favorite way to keep focus. Focus on your body and do some little body scans throughout your meditation practice. Look for any areas of tension and relax them. Drop your shoulders and release the tension in your forehand. Relax your eyes. Just look within yourself, see how you’re feeling, and then tweak and relax deeper and deeper. The truth is that your body is making little movements and tensing parts of your all the time, so this is a practice that can go on indefinitely.
4. Repeat a mantra
Another really popular and really beneficial way to improve your focus is to repeat a mantra. These are phrases or sayings that you repeat over and over again in your head. This is similar to counting breaths because it’s giving you something to focus on, but it’s a positive affirmation that can actually change your thinking. I struggle a lot with self-discipline, willpower, and motivation. If I have a lot of things on my to-do list, I can very easily put them off to just watch Netflix or play video games, so a common mantra for me is ‘I am flow,’ referring to the mindset of Flow where I can just get lost in what I’m doing.
5. Listen to your surroundings
“This can be a double-edged sword, so use it with care, but listening to your surroundings can be a great way to improve your focus. The trick is to not let your mind create a story or think too much about what you’re actually listening to, just to accept and acknowledge that there are sounds around you,” shares Nikki Marie, a writer at Brit student and Writemyx.
Let your attention bounce softly from one sound to another, never settling on one sound, never trying to identify what it is, and never creating a story about it. This is really difficult, and it’s easy to get drawn into the sounds, but start slow and have patience. You’ll get better with practice.