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?
Seems like we humans need to do something to improve our concentration and increase our attention span.
But arguably the best thing for improving concentration is meditation.
Science proves meditation increases concentration
Scientific research proves that we can massively improve focus by meditating.
People have known for millennia that meditating improves your concentration. Buddha knew that thousands of years ago. But it wasn’t until recently that we learned the scientific research why meditation improves 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 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.
Meditation Improves Concentration Quickly Too
Scientific research using neuroimaging technology has proven that meditation improves brain functioning and enhanced concentration. It was always assumed, however, that to acquire these benefits a person need to meditate for many years.
Now we know that you can very quickly improve your concentration by just meditating for a short time each day.
Psychologists studying mindfulness have now shown that you don’t need to commit to much practice in order to glean the full benefits. A study group showed significant improvements in their cognitive abilities after merely four days of meditating for 20 minutes each day.
This research has amazed scientists, who until now believed that any significant change to cognitive abilities took many years to acquire.
In a study, 49 students were divided into two groups, one of which meditated while the other did not. Both before and after the tests students were tested extensively on their cognitive abilities. Though both groups had performed equally in the beginning, the group of students who has meditated scored significantly higher in their tests.
This test has proven not only that the benefits of meditation for studying are very real, but that those benefits may be acquired within a few days.
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 either way, 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.
You want to give yourself the best chance of concentrating.
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. [source]
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 to make your place Zen-sational.
Once your room is ready, continue with the meditations below.
The Best Meditations For Concentration And Focus
All meditations can be broken down into two basic forms: closed-attention and open-attention.
closed: the mind is focused on one thing
open: the mind is openly aware of everything
To improve concentration, we practice closed meditations. We focus on one single thing.
Here are the top closed meditations for developing concentration.
1. Nine Round Breathing.
Nine Round Breathing is a meditation technique that is similar to the “alternative nostril breathing” technique that many people already know. It also goes by the name of Tibetan Pranayama.
This is a controlled breathing meditation in which we breathe in through one nostril and out through the other. It is a very quick way of boosting concentration.
> Read my guide to Nine Round Breathing
2. Candle Meditation For Concentration
The next technique that we are going to look at is a candle meditation (Trataka, otherwise called “Stillness Gazing”).
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 Trataka meditation:
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. Keep your gaze still (hence “stillness gazing) and watch the candle as you take 25 breaths.
4) 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) Continue for 108 breaths.
This is an ancient Buddhist and yoga meditation that is specifically used for concentration. It works by focusing the mind on one thing: visualizing the candle. You will find that this technique silences all thoughts, creates a deep state of inner peace, and significantly improves your concentration.
3. Buddhist Samatha and Vipassana
Samatha is a Buddhist meditation technique in which we focus the mind on one thing (often on the breath, though traditionally there are 40 meditative objects used in Samatha).
In Samatha meditation we focus the mind on one object and allow our thoughts to subside. This quietens the mind and heightens concentration.
Traditionally, Samatha is partnered with another Buddhist meditation: Vipassana.
Vipassana is a Buddhist meditation for concentration and 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.
4. If you just want to cheat, use this guided meditation.
6. Can’t focus enough to meditate? Go dynamic
If you struggle to focus enough to meditate, I’ve got two words for you: Dynamic (dance) Meditation. Try it.’
Alternative 1: Mantras for concentration
Mantras are spiritual words or phrases with special healing of augmentative properties. They are similar to spells or affirmations.
By spending ten minutes meditating on a mantra (chanting while focusing the mind on the sound) we can quickly improve concentration.
In Hinduism, Yoga, and Buddhism, different mantras have different properties, and there are specific mantras for focus.
Alternative 2: Mudras For Concentration
Mudras are specific hand positions or body positions that are used in yoga and Buddhism.
Different mudras create different positive effects in the body and mind.
There is a particular mudra for concentration: the Hakini mudra.
Try using the Hakini mudra for ten minutes for a fast boost of concentration.
It’s 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. 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 use these great tips of productivity.
I would love to hear how you get on with this. Leave a comment.