Best Meditation For Concentration & Focus [With Script]

Everyone wants to know how meditation could help them to stop getting distracted and to focus the mind.

The good news is that there are many meditations that help with concentration. Here are some of the best.

1: Guided Meditation for Concentration

This guided meditation is based on Focused Awareness, which is one of the two broad categories of meditation (Read Focused-Attention and Open-Monitoring.)

“Focused Attention” means that when we meditate, we focus on one thing. Conversely, “Open Monitoring” means we do not focus on one thing but instead we open the mind to everything.  

If you want better concentration, you should use focused attention meditations.

Below you can try more of these types of meditation. And honestly, as someone who has ADHD I can honestly say that yes, these do help. If it weren’t for the fact that I meditate every day, I would have the attention span of a lobotomized goldfish. 

 2: Nine-Round Breathing  

You may have heard of alternative nostril breathing. This exercise is similar. It is a controlled breathing exercise in which we breathe in through one nostril and out through the other. Traditionally this is done in cycles of 108 breaths. 

  1. Close one nostril with a finger
  2. Inhale through the open nostril, using diaphragmatic breathing
  3. Release your finger from the closed nostril. Now close the other nostril. Breathe out through the nostril that is now open. 
  4. Inhale through the same nostril you just exhaled through. 
  5. Change your finger so that the nostril that was open is now closed and vice versa
  6. Inhale through the open nostril
  7. Repeat for 108 breaths.

3: Trataka (“Still Gazing”)

The next technique we will look at is Candle Gazing (Trataka), a purification method (Shatkarma) of Hatha yoga.

For this meditation, we meditate on a candle.  

  1. Light a candle.
  2. Sit comfortably with good posture.
  3. Look at the candle for a few moments. Study the candle’s form. Watch how the flame flickers and dances. Keep your gaze still (hence “stillness gazing”). 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 technique, and it is backed by some fascinating science. 

Research from neuropsychologist Marcel Kinsbourne shows that there is a link between eye movements and states of mind.

When our eyes are still, our minds will also be still. In fact, this is the basis of a form of therapy called EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) that is used to heal mental disorders.


 4: Buddhist Meditations

Buddhist monks dedicate a lot of their training to improving their concentration. Indeed, large sections of the  Abhidhamma and the Visuddhimagga (Buddhist texts) are dedicated to this.

There are two main ways Buddhists train their concentration. The first is Vipassana, and the second Samatha. Let’s look at both of those methods.

 4a: Samatha:

The Pali Canon describes Samatha as a one-pointed focus. 

In this technique, we focus the mind on one thing. For instance, you can focus on your breath, on the sound of water, or on anything you find relaxing.

While focusing, you let your thoughts and feelings pass by, without clinging to them, while you continue to focus on the meditation object. I personally use this method most days and in my experience, it truly does help me to focus my mind and to not get lost in thoughts and distractions.

Samatha Meditation Guided Practice (Buddhist Meditation For Focus & Concentration)

4b: Vipassana:

Vipassana is a Buddhist meditation for concentration and insight. It is one of the most popular methods in use today and is taught by famous meditation teachers like S. N. Goenka and Jack Kornfield. 

  1. Sit comfortably with good posture.
  2. Focus on breathing.
  3. Observe your thoughts as they enter your mind. Do not fight your thoughts or cling to them; just observe them in a non-judgmental fashion.
  4. If you experience the same thought over and over, try this. Begin by watching 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.
  5. Continue to 108 breaths.

5: Zazen

Zazen is a form of Zen meditation. We usually perform it facing a wall with our eyes open. We then focus on the breath in the way typical of mindful breathing.

Research by Giuseppe Pagnoni [Associate Professor, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia] suggests that Zazen strengthens our ability fo focus on one thing at a time. And I will admit that sitting in front of a wall seems slightly strange even to me, but yes, it is important.


6: Guided meditation 

There are many guided meditations for focus. You can find them on apps like Calm, Headspace, Insight Timer, and Synctuition. And, of course, on Youtube.

7: Mantras 

Mantras are spiritual words or phrases with special healing or augmentative properties. Think of them like spells or affirmations.

Some mantras help with concentration.

According to American Hindu teacher David Frawley in an article for The Chopra Center, “Concentrated sounds project a single consistent sound vibration through which the mind can be easily concentrated”.

Spend ten minutes meditating on a mantra. Simply start chanting “Om” and focus on the sound. You will find that your mind clears. And with a clear mind, you will be able to focus. 

8: Mudras 

Mudras are specific hand positions or body positions used in yoga, Buddhism and Ayurveda. They are based on accupressure points.

Different mudras create different effects in the body and mind.

According to Gertrud Hirschi, author of Mudras: Yoga In Your Hands, the best mudra for concentration is Hakini mudra, which you can see in the image below.

hakini mudra

Link Between Meditation And Focus

The Link Between Meditation And Focus

Above, we looked at how to increase concentration with meditation. You might wonder why meditation helps. So lets look at the science.

A study by Katherine MacLean of the University of California, Davis published in the journal Psychological Science, looked at the relationship between meditation and focus [2]

Researchers were interested in discovering why Buddhist monks who meditate have sharper minds than virtually anyone else.

The researchers took sixty meditation enthusiasts to a retreat, the Shambhala Mountain Center. There, they learnt different types of meditation. However, only half of the group went right away. The other half had to wait three months to let the researchers measure participants’ focus at different times.

Researchers tested the focus of each group before the retreats, after the first retreat, and at the end. Participants completed the task of clicking a mouse when a line on a computer changed colour. 

Results showed that meditation improved concentration in both groups. Plus, it reduced the number of erroneous clicks. You can read more about this on TIME.

It only takes 20 minutes  

You can quickly benefit from meditation according to Lena Wimmer et. al. at the Department of Psychology, University of Duisburg-Essen. 

In a study, forty-nine students were divided into two groups. One group meditated while the other did not. Both before and after the tests, researchers measured the participants’ cognitive abilities.

Though both groups had performed equally in the beginning, the group of students who had meditated improved their concentration significantly more than the other group. [3] This was after just four days of meditating for 20 minutes each day.

Meditation is more effective than alternatives

Research in Psychological Science suggests that meditation is the single best way of improving your concentration. 

Katherine MacLean of the University of California [4] was fascinated by the levels of concentration she saw in Zen monks.

“You wonder if the mental skills, the calmness, the peace that monks express, if those things are a result of their very intensive training or if they were just very special people to begin with,” says MacLean.

To find the answer, McLean tested the effects of meditation on focus. She took sixty participants and sent half of them on a three-month meditation retreat in Colorado. The other half was the control group.

After three months, MacLean tested the participants’ ability to make visual distinctions. Participants were asked to watch a screen on which flashed a series of lines. The lines changed in length every so often, at which the participants were told to click the mouse.

Results of the test speak for themselves. Individuals who meditated had much higher levels of focus and concentration. After meditating, the participants were able to click on the mouse much quicker and much more accurately.

Meditation quietens the mind so you can focus

A report in the Journal of Neuroscience suggests that mindfulness quietens regions of the brain activity related to mind-wandering.

 In the study, Pagnoni recruited twelve Zen monks who had been meditating for many years. He then performed brain scans.

The results of this group were compared to a group of people who had never meditated but were similar in age and education. The participants were then studied via MRI.

The results?

Joshua Gowin PhD says, “Meditators have more stability in their ventral posteromedial cortex, a region linked to spontaneous thoughts and mind wandering.

Pagnoni thought and proved that what separates mediators from non-meditators is the control they have over this region of the brain. Mindfulness reduces mind-wandering, or what Buddhists call the “Monkey Mind”.

Pagnoni then decided to test the participants using a rapid visual information processing task. He told participants to look at a monitor while numbers rapidly flashed on and off at a rate of 100 times per minute. The numbers were in random order. Participants were asked to press a button every time a specific sequence of numbers appeared. Hitting the button at the wrong time led to a warning.

Those participants who had meditated were more successful in the test. Their results contained more correct button-presses and fewer false ones.

The meditators were taught a specific type of meditation: Zen. 



How can I concentrate while meditating?

So, we know that meditation helps us to better focus. But what if you cannot focus enough to meditate? If you struggle to concentrate while meditating, start with easy techniques. For instance, you could try a guided meditation or listen to meditation music. Alternatively, try counting your breaths.

How else can I improve my concentration? 

 Exercise helps. Particularly yoga and tai chi. And changing your environment, such as by clearing your room or listening to meditation music. Also consider your diet.

What are the benefits of meditation for students?

The main benefit of meditation for students is that it enhances our ability to focus on studying  concentration. But it has other benefits for students too. It increases creativity and cognitive functioning. Plus, it boosts your confidence at school or university.

What is the difference between meditation and concentration?

Concentration and meditation are similar in many ways. Both involve focusing on one thing. Concentration, however, is generally forced. It implies effort. We concentrate through distractions. Meditation, on the other hand, is an effortless exercise in which we rest our awareness on the subject.

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By Paul Harrison

Paul Harrison BSc is a qualified meditation teacher who believes in genuine, authentic meditation. He has more than 15 years experience in teaching meditation and mindfulness both to individuals and to corporations.

1 comment

  1. Hi Paul I’m 55 and have been long suffering from lack of concentration beyond a short few seconds. It’s affected my studies at college (at that time no one knew about ADHD), and is currently affecting my career that involves deep study of engineering sciences. How can I be helped and whether your book covers everything that your website states?

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