Concentration is the arrow.
Meditation is the bow.
By keeping all our focus on one single thing we give that thing our energy. This energy then manifests on the physical level. Well, if we are successul in concentrating. As it is with everything, we have to practice. And even though we may reach certain level of concentration, we have to keep working on it or we lose it again. You may have noticed that sportsmen do concentration exercises as part of their training. But this skill is important for each of us as well; otherwise it’s really hard to achieve anything in life. No matter whether we are professional athlete or spend most of our time in an office. If we are able to focus on one single thought, that thought will become an action eventually and that action will become reality. The thought itself is a reality of its own, but it’s not a manifested reality yet. That we achieve by giving our energy to it and by doing that we give it a chance to transform into full reality.
Concentration must not be forced. We cannot achieve it by pushing on ourselves. Concentration does not mean that our mind is completely empty of thoughts (except for the one we’re focusing on). That is actually a very high state of mind (or consciousness) and it’s not at all easy to reach that. What we can reach however is not to be affected by our thoughts. We let them flow through our mind but don’t let them catch our attention. This we can achieve by regularly practicing concentration.
Imagine for example that you’re standing at the start of a 100 meter race. The only thing we have to think about at the moment is to start at exactly the right time. Not a milisecond earlier or milisecond later. But conditions around us might not be ideal to be ideal for that. People are watching us, we’re noticing other competitors, we notice our body. There are plenty of thoughts rushing through the mind: what do other runners think; are my shoes properly tied; will I not fall down after the start; what did I have for breakfast. To get rid of them fast is almost impossible but we can learn how to simply not give them a chance to catch our attention. All top athletes are able to do that and there is no reason why anybody would not be able to learn it as well. We’ll try to teach you that at our meditation classes as one of the first things.
Concentration on its own can perform miracles in our lives. But we are probably mostly interested in how to use it in our meditation. Many people mistake meditation for concentration. In reality concentration is only a necessary step towards meditation. Before we meditate we concentrate in order to control and calm down our mind. After a while we release the concentration and try to perceive our inner being. In that moment meditation starts. It happens spontanneously inside our heart.
Let us close with one concentration exercise. We will use our breath as a point of concentration, because the activity of thoughts is closely connected to breathing.
Perhaps the easiest way how to concentrate is to focus on our breath. We have that always with us and don’t need anything else. We always breathe in and our through the nose, slowly and deeply. Our eyes are closed or slightly open. Before each inhalation and exhalation we try to focus our mind inside ourselves. In the beginning we will lose our focus quite fast, but we must not be disturbed by that. We just keep coming back again and again with each inhalation and exhalation. It’s allright to lose the focus but it’s important to keep coming back and not to give up. After couple of minutes we will not be losing our focus that much anymore. To make it easier we can repeat “inhalation” when breathing in and “exhalation” when breathing out, or we can repeat any mantra we like such as Aum.