How to Increase Concentration and Memory Power with Meditation
It is hard to ignore the importance of focus and concentration. While focus can certainly benefit you matters like education and financial success, it can also have a profound impact on other aspects of your life.
How to Increase Your Concentration Power
Modern life is full of sensory overload, and the ability to move past these distractions to attend to what is truly important to you. Without focus, it is difficult to stay tuned to your beliefs and need.
According to research published in the Journal of Physiological Science, and research on Buddhist monks confirm that meditation can help you develop skills of focus and attention, even during tedious tasks that could otherwise cause failure. Let’s look at why having improved focus is a skill we should all learn. (Source)
How to Focus Your Mind with Meditation
Increased focus allows you to concentrate on a single aspect, goal, or event in your life. This can allow you to accomplish more goals you have in life and dedicate more time to those things you believe to be important in your life.
Focus on Your Goals
The focus you gain through meditation can enhance your ability to know yourself and understand what goals will help you best achieve happiness. Clear focus can help you identify all that is most important to you, which helps shape your vision and set goals that will get you where you want to be. Setting the right goals is the key to achieving your desired results.
When you begin to and continue to practice focus on a specific goal, you are more likely to try many different strategies in the name of achieving that goal, and to persist in the face of difficulty. When you learn to focus, you can consider alternative methods or new strategies that will help you overcome failure or obstacles, increasing your chances of success.
Peace, Calming and Stress Reduction
Learning to focus through meditation provides you with the opportunity to focus on the positive aspects of your life, which help lower your stress and reduce symptoms associated with excess stress. When you are working on your own self-development and healing, the focus and concentration you learn through meditative practice can provide needed support, too.
Building Self Confidence
When you meditate regularly, you begin to know and trust yourself more. Through the self-awareness that often accompanies meditation, you learn to feel confident in your abilities as well as recognize your own power to build new strengths and skills.
How to Meditate for Improved Focus and Concentration
Focused meditation involves the selection of a point of focus, sometimes called an anchor, and attention to that anchor in exclusion of everything else that may be competing for attention.
When opting for focused-attention mediation, you select something that you can focus on with your senses.
This could be a sound, a chant, your own breathing, a burning candle, or just about anything else that is useful for you. When you opt to focus on this one thing, you can quieten your mind and feel at peace in the quiet between your busy, distracted thoughts.
Especially when learning to meditate, you need to understand that it will be difficult for you to maintain attention for very long periods. You will become distracted, you will have to learn how to refocus your attention, and it will take time. Stay calm and work toward bringing yourself back to your anchor, recognizing that this may take several attempts. Do not judge yourself or become frustrated. It takes time and practice, and it is not something you will learn overnight.
Focused meditation can teach you many things and help you develop your mind, but it is also relaxing and helps you center yourself. By anchoring yourself in the present moment, you can let go of anxieties and worry, free yourself from judgment, and focus on yourself for a short time.
Setting the Stage for Focused-Attention Meditation
Start by setting yourself up for success in your selection of an environment that is conducive to this type of practice. A quiet room with a comfortable place to sit is needed, especially in the beginning. Select somewhere you will be free from distractions for the duration of your practice. Sit in a chair or on the floor, but make sure your back is straight and your feet rest on the floor. Make sure your clothes are loose and not binding and take off your shoes if this makes you more comfortable.
Start your practice with just a few moments of relaxation. Close your eyes and breathe deeply and slowly, filling your abdomen with air. You should soon notice your muscles beginning to relax, especially those in your shoulders, neck, head, and face. Spend as long as you need to get into this relaxed state before focusing on your anchor. Focus on your breathing.
Selecting an Anchor
What you choose to concentrate on during your focused-attention meditation is a personal choice. When starting out, you may try several different types of anchors before selecting just one, as you may not know what will work best for you until you practice with it several times. The following are just some of the options you can select as an anchor for this type of meditation.
1. Your Breath
Breath focus means you breathe normally and naturally, all the while focusing on each inhale and exhale. You should feel the air as it enters through your nose, focus on the expansion of your chest, lungs, and abdomen as they fill with air, and concentrate on the air leaving your body through your nose. Become totally immersed in your breathing process, allowing yourself to focus on this act and this alone.
2. An Image
Select an image that is pleasant or neutral for you. You could opt for a lit candle flame, a favorite landscape, a flower, or just about anything you like. Visualize the image in your head, allowing the details to come gently to your mind. Focus your full attention on this image. Include all the details you can see, hear, taste, feel, or smell in your mind. Get to know the object by observing everything you possibly can about it.
3. A Mantra or Word
You can opt for a word that has positive connotations for you, anything that makes you feel good, or you can go with a mantra such as “om,” a traditional chant for meditation. Repeat the mantra with each breath, saying it either quietly in your head or out loud, as you choose.
4. A Real Object
Like with an image, select something that makes you feel positive. If you enjoy outdoor meditation, this is a good option, as you can focus on the sunset, a nearby landmark, the sound of water, or the sun on your face. You can keep your eyes open if you prefer to have the constant visual, and again, you will focus on all the details that make this object special and unique.
How to Improve Concentration in Focused-Attention Meditation
Your anchor should be the focus of your attention, which keeps you concentrating on the present moment. You focus on your chosen anchor, ignoring all other input, distracting thoughts, and images that come to your mind.
When other images, feelings, and thoughts come to you, as they will, notice that you have lost focus, then gently remind yourself to return your concentration back to your anchor. Avoid feelings of frustration or anger, instead just acknowledging these other thoughts or feelings and allowing them to drift on past you. There should be no judgment about these distractions, instead just acknowledgment and a recommitment to focus on your anchor.
When you begin practicing, you will likely find it difficult to sustain your attention for longer than perhaps five or ten minutes. Over time, you will work up to a more lengthy practice, aiming for 20-30 minutes as an optimal period in which to meditate. After you are finished, sit quietly, keeping your eyes closed, for a few minutes, coming back to your usual thought patterns and re-engaging all parts of your mind before proceeding with your day.
How to Increase Concentration and Memory Power
In the beginning, especially, it may be helpful to write down your experiences with meditation, including any insights you have about your practice. You may have nothing to write about, or you may find you have much to consider.
Even if you become distracted many times, your meditation session was successful. Letting those thoughts drift past means you are benefiting from this practice. You should have patience in the process it takes to develop these types of skills.
Once you have practiced and feel comfortable and confident in your focused-attention meditation, you may want to embark on learning open monitoring meditation practices. It will take what you learn in focused-attention to the next level. Open monitoring builds on these learned attention skills to incorporate more skills of observation as well as how to stop passing judgment on every thought that crosses your mind. (Source)
Power of Concentration Final Thoughts
It is worth remembering that the practice of meditation is the benefit of meditation. All over outcomes are side effects of the practice, but some of these are so significant that they have become the focus of the conversation around meditation in recent decades. We do know, from imaging, interviews, empirical research, and anecdotal accounts, that meditation has an overwhelmingly positive impact on those who practice it regularly.
Meditation, at its core, teaches you how to silence your mind. When you can do this, your concentration increases, and you experience inner peace despite the craziness and chaos of your outside world. This inner peace is what has allowed meditation to continue as a lasting, trusted practice across so many cultures and religions for thousands of years.
Self-actualization is perhaps the most important outcome of meditation, and while this is difficult to measure and evaluate through scientific research, it is nonetheless an important outcome that should not be overlooked.
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