There is nothing better for your concentration than meditation. When you meditate you allow your mind to let go of unwanted noise and to tune-out distractions. You train your mind to focus on one thing at a time. And within just twenty minutes of meditating you will have the focus and attention you need to have a successful, productive day.
In 2000 the average human attention span was 12 seconds. Not exactly impressive, is it? And it has gotten worse since then. Today, the average human attention span is just eight seconds.
How are you ever going to achieve anything if you can only focus for eight seconds?
We all need to improve our concentration so we can hold our attention for longer. And thankfully, meditation can help.
There is nothing better than meditation for concentration. Science proves it.
It’s not news.
People have known for millennia that meditating improves your concentration. Buddha knew that. But no one knew the scientific reason why meditation improves your concentration.
A recent study by the journal Psychological Science looked at the relationship between meditation and concentration. The researchers knew that Buddhist monks who have been meditating for years have significantly better concentration than the average person. What they wanted to figure out was why.
They took 60 enthusiasts to a meditation retreat, the Shambhala Mountain Center. However, only half the group went right away. The other half had to wait three months in order to let the researcher’s test the different groups’ concentration at different times.
The researchers tested the concentration of each group before the retreats, after the first retreat, and at the end. The group participants were asked to complete the boring task of clicking a mouse when a line on a computer changed color. Boring, no doubt. But a good way to test concentration.
So what happened?
The study conclusively proved that both groups’ concentration levels had significantly improved after meditating. And that is just one of the many tests that prove that nothing is better than meditation for concentration. You can read more about the link between meditation and concentration on TIME.
Believe it or not, this is just one of over 100 benefits of meditation. Click that link to learn more. It will blow your mind.
How to use meditation for concentration
Preparing the way. Setting the temple. Getting your sh*t straight.
You’re not Buddha. If you are one of our regular Zen-sational readers then you might be enlightened. But you are still susceptible to distraction. Because… you’re human.
So even though meditation will help you to concentrate, it is not the be all, end all of the entire ordeal.
You want to give yourself the best chance of concentrating. Every plus is a plus, right. I know you positivity-warriors get that. Why do one positive thing when you can do two?
So as well as meditating (which I will show you in a sec) it is also important that you prep your temple.
Your home is your temple. And your temple should be clean. So guess what? Part of using meditation for concentration is getting your sh*t together so you actually have a cat in hell’s chance of focusing.
Buddha didn’t meditate in a dump. Okay, he did meditate around a bunch of corpses and under a tree. But he did not meditate in a dump where there’s clutter all over the place. He cleaned up.
The cleaner, clearer, and more Zen-like your room and house / flat / shed / trailer are, the more likely you are to be able to concentrate.
Now, you can choose to Feng Shui it if you want. Or you can choose to reconstruct your room because science shows that good architectural design can have the same effect as meditation. Take a look at my guide to designing a meditation room for more on this. Both those articles are going to help you get your pad set properly so you can have the focus and concentration of a Zen monk.
But don’t listen to me. Take a look at what Western Governors University has to say about your room and your mind.
Improve your concentration by meditating
So we now know why meditation helps concentration. And we’ve cleaned our pads ready to meditate. Guess what’s next?
Next we actually meditate.
Problem is, there are more than 700 types of meditation. We can’t do them all unless we commit ourselves to the dojo. So which meditation techniques should we use?
These are the best meditation techniques for concentration and focus:
The Best Meditations For Concentration And Focus
For complete guides to all these techniques, read my Guide To Meditation
1. Nine Round Breathing.
Nine Round Breathing is a seemingly easy meditation technique. I say it is “seemingly easy” because you can do it with little effort without needing tuition. But it also leads to an advanced technique by the same name, a technique that purifies the energy centers in your body so your prana flows freely.
But… we just want concentration for now.
2. Anapanasati Meditation for Concentration
1) Find a quiet space where you will not be disturbed for ten minutes. (If you really want to enjoy a divine meditation take a look at my guide to creating a meditation space)
2) Sit comfortably either with your legs crossed, kneeling up or on a chair. Make sure you have good posture.
3) Close your eyes and focus your mind on your breath as it enters and leaves through your nose.
4) Continue to focus on your inhalations and exhalations for five minutes.
5) Now hold a finger over one of your nostrils. Breathe in. Cover that nostril and breath out through the other (i.e alternate nostril breathing).
6) If you are finding it hard to focus, count your breaths.
7) Practice alternate nostril breathing for five minutes.
8) Now we are going to switch to Nine Round Breathing. Practice nine round breathing for the remaining five minutes. (if you have not done this before, take a look at the Dalai Lama’s guide to Nine Round Breathing).
This very simple breathing technique will quickly focus your mind.
3. Candle Meditation For Concentration
The next technique that we are going to look at is a candle meditation.
Naturally, for this you are going to need a candle and something to light it with.
Be sure to read through the instructions below before beginning.
How do it:
1) Light your candle.
2) Sit comfortably with good posture.
3) Look at the candle for a few moment. Study the candle’s form. Watch how the flame flickers and dances. Follow the candle for two minutes.
4) Now close your eyes and try to hold the image of the candle in your mind’s eye. If you lose the image at any time, open your eyes, look at the candle again and repeat.
5) Practice for ten minutes.
This is an ancient Buddhist technique that is specifically used for concentration. It works by forcing your mind to focus on one task: visualizing the candle. You will find that this technique silences all thoughts, creates a deep state of inner peace, and significantly improves your concentration.
The final technique that we will look at is a form of Vipassana which is used for insight.
In this meditation we observe our thoughts and learn what is happening in our minds.
This is an excellent way of removing stubborn thoughts. For instance, if you are suffering from negative thought depression and keep hearing same depressing thought over and over in your mind, you can use this meditation to remove the thought.
By removing thoughts you will create inner calm, which is conducive to concentration.
Here’s how to do it.
Vipassana for concentration
1) Sit comfortably with good posture, lie down, or stand up (I prefer sitting but it is not important. Just make sure you are still and have good posture).
2) Focus on your breathing using the Anapanasati technique we looked at above. Focus on your breathing for five minutes.
3) Observe your thoughts as they enter your mind. Do not fight your thoughts or cling to them, just observe them in a nonjudgmental fashion.
4) If you find that you are experiencing the same thought over and over, try this. Begin by observing the thought, then describe it: does the thought involve words? Do you see an image in your mind? Describe the thought. Now tell yourself that it is only a thought. Finally suggest an alternative thought.
Allow me to give an example of stage 4 so as to clarify.
Let’s say you always hear the words, “I’m not good enough” in your head. This thought is distracting you and stopping you from concentrating. To remove the thought, first tell yourself what kind of thought it is. Say to yourself “This is just noise in my head.” Then tell yourself that the thought is not real; it is ONLY a thought. Next suggest an alternative thought “I am good enough.” Finally return to focusing on your breathing.
5. If you just want to cheat, use this guided meditation.
It’s quit shocking that the average person has an attention span of only 8 seconds. But thankfully there are lots of ways you can improve your concentration. And meditation is one of the best ways.
In this article you have learnt new meditation techniques that you can use to develop your concentration. If you use those techniques for twenty minutes a day you will significantly improve your focus and concentration.
You might also like to try some other meditation techniques. The ones we looked at above are some of the best techniques for concentration. But there are over 700 types of meditation in total. If you would to try an alternative, take a look at this guide to the different types of meditation.
- Why not take a look at my guide to using meditation for focus for even more great tips?
I would love to hear how you get on with this. Leave a comment.