Many people notice they experience a lot of thoughts during their meditation practice. This is very common. Below are a list of tips to help you develop concentration so you can benefit more out of your meditation practice.
1. Focus on the candle flame prior to the meditation practice
Traditionally, beginners to meditation are taught to focus on the candle flame as an exercise to develop concentration. Light a candle and place it on your meditation table. With your eyes open, gently gaze at the candle flame for a few minutes prior to your meditation practice. When thoughts arise during this exercise, instead of following your thoughts, bring your mind back to the candle flame.
2. Use your physical activities as concentrated exercises
Throughout the day, use the physical activities you are engaging in as concentrated exercises. For example, instead of multitasking while eating your lunch during a work day, take your eyes off the mobile device or computer and just eat. Take a few moments to appreciate your meal. How does your meal smell like? Does the color combination of your meal look pleasing to your eyes? Have a moment of gratitude to the person who has made your meal. Take the first bite of your meal with total concentration and appreciation. How does the meal taste like?
Another example, when washing dishes, treat it as a concentration exercise. Focus on applying the dishwashing liquid on the dishes thoroughly. Use the sponge to fully wash dishes inside and out. Rinse the dishes with water. Feel the water running through your fingers. When your mind drift to something else, bring your mind back to the activity of dishwashing.
3. Do one thing at the time
Take a few minutes to observe how you work. Do you write a document, answer emails, answer instant messages, and facilitate a conference call at the same time? The myth is: the more you multitask, the more you accomplish. The fact is multitasking slows down and prolongs the duration to complete a task. Multitasking is designed for computers and is not for human beings. Focus on doing one task at the time. You will accomplish the task sooner and with higher quality.
4. Developing concentration is a process
Developing concentration is a process. It takes time and patience to master concentration. Develop the power of concentration gradually. As you develop your concentration, you can apply the concentration to the meditation techniques during your meditation practice. Focus on the techniques as hard as you can during your meditation practice. The better you’re able to concentrate, the better you’ll be able to focus on the meditation techniques during your meditation practice.
Not only developing concentration will help you meditate better and be more productive, it will also help you live in the moment. Bill Keane says, “Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift.” Don’t miss out the possibility of living in the present moment fully.