Are you Better at Completing Exciting Tasks or at Finishing Dull, Boring ones? Concentrative Meditation will help you Excel at both!

"If we know the divine art of concentration, if we know the divine art of meditation, if we know the divine art of contemplation, easily and consciously we can unite the inner world and the outer world" - Sri Chinmoy

Concentrative meditation is an active meditation that seeks to cultivate focus through single pointed attention on an object, image, sound or breath. 

The object of choice could be a flame or a flower; the image could be of a saint or a guru or even that of a religious symbol; the chosen sound could be a mantra or the primordial sound of Om.

Concentrating on a single object calms and stabilizes the mind because it forces the mind to stay in the present. As our mind can't hold more than one thought at any time, focusing it on a chosen object prevents it from straying into the past or the future.

Another advantage of concentrative meditation, in addition to keeping you in the present moment, is that it helps you score an important psychological victory.

By having the mind listen to you and pay attention to what you direct it to, you get to tell the mind that you are the boss - that you are in control.  Rather than acting like a dictator, controlling your every thought and emotion, the mind finally becomes a pliant servant, under your command, ready to take orders from you.

One cannot overemphasize the benefits of having such control over your mind. The increased focus and massive improvements in your day-to-day productivity will amaze you.   

In a study conducted by Katherine Maclean of UC, Davis, 30 meditators went through a three month meditation retreat and exhibited a dramatic increase in their 'visual discrimination.' 

Unlike the control group, the meditators were able to focus intently in a boring test asking them to pick the shorter line among a group of lines flashing on the screen.

Different ways to do concentrative meditation

Samatha and Satipatthana are two Buddhist meditation practices that focus on the breath to develop concentration.

Mindfulness, also known as Dharana in Sanskrit, trains you in becoming acutely aware of your internal and external environment, and paying attention to the various sensations in your body, mind and surroundings.

Simple concentrative meditation

  • Sit in a comfortable meditation posture
  • Light a candle and keep it about 5 feet away from where you are sitting
  • Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths
  • Open your eyes slightly to a half-open position
  • Bring your attention to the top of the flame
  • Notice the flame's outline and its color. Notice if it flickers
  • Next, move your attention to the middle of the flame. What color is it?
  • Move to the bottom part of the flame and observe it intently
  • Can you see the wax melting and rising as vapor before turning into flame
  • Do it for twenty minutes

Daily practice for even two weeks will significantly improve your concentration and your ability to focus on uninteresting tasks.

Not only will you be able to focus for longer periods of time, but also the quality of your attention will be far superior.

If you are new to meditation and would like to know more about different meditation postures and other basics, then read through the Beginners' Guide.  

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