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10 Ways to Increase Your Concentration

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  1. Understand what concentration is: “Concentration is taking your mind off many things and putting it on one thing at a time.”
  2. Decide what you want to concentrate on. In many ways, you become what you focus on — that is, you take on some of its characteristics. Have you ever noticed how couples who have been married for many years start to look like each other, or how people often come to resemble their pets, their cars, their hobbies, or their work projects?
  3. Watch other people concentrating. Go see a good action movie. In the middle of it, look around at the people in the theater. What are they doing? They are absolutely still, eyes barely blinking, and their breath is slower. It would take a really major distraction to break their attention stream. These physical signs may give you a hint about ways to increase your own concentration abilities.
  4. Avoid constant sensory input. Multi-tasking (trying to do more than one thing at a time), loud noises, and visual stimulation (such as from a T.V.) make concentration much more difficult, and being around them or doing them too much can put you into a habit of non-attention which can be hard to break.
  5. Make it a point to put your full concentration on whatever you are doing. Don’t let anything distract you. It really helps to be in a quiet place, but you can learn to block out noise if necessary.
  6. Stay calm. Deep concentration is a matter of increasing or directing your life-force or conscious, cosmic energy. The more of this kind of energy you have, the better. Scattered energy doesn’t help. It must be calm, focused energy. Learn to be calmly concentrated and be concentratedly calm.
  7. Learn techniques to increase and control your energy. One such technique is Paramhansa Yogananda’s Energization Exercises. Controlling your energy is an important first step toward the ability to concentrate deeply.
  8. Take breaks. Go outside and breathe deeply or take a brisk walk. Make yourself do this often and you’ll be able to return to your task recharged and ready to focus more creatively.
  9. Learn to meditate. Meditation is the most powerful of all concentration enhancement techniques. Learn a few simple meditation techniques and practice them at least five minutes daily.
  10. While meditating, watch your breath — don’t control it in any way, just observe. This teaches you to focus your mind on one thing at a time. As you observe your breath, it will slow down, along with your mind (this is a scientifically well-documented), and you move into a dynamic, peaceful (but not sleepy) state of being. Your mind will become recharged and creatively receptive.
 

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53 Responses

  1. ankur damle says:

    main topic how to concentrate is still mising . i m serching most effective and fastest way to grow concentration which will help to meditate. if we say meditation is the way to develop concentration then we face a question how to meditate without concentration

    • Firoz says:

      I have tried what is called meditation. The problem is that somehow you must be able to concentrate to meditate. I just cant concentrate even upto this extend. When I tried to listen to my breath some other thoughts(mostly music/songs) comes to my mind. I tried so much but just cannot get rid of them. This is not a problem of just one in the society. As a student I have suffered a lot as I found it difficult to concentrate. So you have to suggest some other ways for the eradication of this issue.

      • Nabha Cosley says:

        That is extremely common — I would venture to say that having distracting thoughts is the norm. Some may have them more than others, but it’s everyone’s problem.

        Imagine that you have a glass of water with some dirt in it, and you shake it up. The dirt will get mixed in the water, and the whole glass will become a muddy color. But let the glass sit for a while, and it will become clear again.

        It sounds like you are at that point where, sitting still, you are seeing, as we all do, the muddy water of our restless minds. But if you continue to try, you will find your mind gradually becoming clearer and clearer.

        Don’t give up. Keep meditating, even if it is hard — and learn what you can to make it easier. St. Theresa of Avila said, “A meditation is worthwhile even if all you did was fight distraction.”

  2. Brian Ngamiah says:

    It is a nice package but am still lacking the materiality of your lessons, for instance if you tell me to learn and practice some physical and mental energization techniques (7), please tell me some of the examples, a material thing I can do.

  3. laxman says:

    i study though i can’t remember

    • Nabha Cosley says:

      Hi Laxman, there are lots of techniques to improve your memory. We don’t teach them at Ananda — we specialize in recovering your soul’s memory of who you are :) — but websites like MindTools (http://www.mindtools.com) have a great collection of tips to help you memorize lists, foreign languages, or other information. I’ve used some of those techniques and they are pretty effective.

      Just remember, understanding something deeply and knowing the facts are two different things.

  4. priyanka agarwal says:

    i really liked it and pkz give me some suggestions to concentrate on my studies

    • Nabha Cosley says:

      Priyanka, probably the biggest thing for most students would be to create an environment that helps you concentrate: find a quiet place by yourself (if you can) and remove as many distractions as possible: cell phones, instant messaging, snacking, etc.

      If this isn’t possible, you could listen to music with headphones to help you create a little bubble of isolation. It’s best if the music does not have words, as words would tend to engage the same part of your brain that you use to read and do other studies.

      Above all, don’t multi-task — you won’t be doing yourself any favors; and try to remove as many temptations to multi-task as you can.

      Best of luck!

  5. Neema mbilinyi says:

    I failed to concentrate in my studies my head is full of things plz i want to get them out bt how

  6. sia says:

    nice one but isnt there any more methods to gain concentration

    • Nabha Cosley says:

      There are other methods of course, but we’re just listing the ones we think are most effective.

      Meditation is probably the most powerful item on the list here — if you don’t already practice it, try it for a while and I bet you’ll notice a difference.

  7. sharon says:

    i was an excellent student before but nowadays i’m not the topper in my class anymore.so plz help me and tell me how to bring back my focus..my greatest asset is i have a great memory and aptitude when im in full cocentration mode.

  8. Gavish says:

    Superb if u hv any tips to avoid mistakes in my office work please send a mail on my id

    • Nabha Cosley says:

      Gavish, I’ll reply by email as well, but here are some thoughts:

      Concentration will certainly improve your performance. I also work in an office and occasionally make mistakes. Here are a few things I find that help:

      1. Be organized: Use a task management system like David Allen’s Getting Things Done, which will help you stay on top of everything and not forget to do things. It may also help you relax.
      2. Be realistic: Watch yourself to learn what causes you to make mistakes, and avoid those things. One way to analyze the cause of mistakes is a technique called The Five Whys; you can learn about it here. You may find, for example, that being in a hurry or having to multitask tends to cause you to make mistakes. If so, you are not alone! See what you can change in your environment to help you focus better on one thing at a time. Some things, like unplugging your phone or working from home, may need buy-in from your boss, but it’s worth having the discussion with him or her to see what is possible.
      3. Ask for help: Get a second set of eyes to look at what you’ve done, if that’s an option. Writers need editors; professional athletes need coaches; you might need someone to help you with quality assurance.
      4. Stay calm: Everything is easier if you stay calm. :)

      Swami Kriyananda wrote a series of lessons on achieving Success and Happiness that was aimed in part at office workers, and which you may find helpful in general: Success and Happiness Through Yoga Principles.

  9. S.Silambarasan says:

    i need simple exercise for developing concentration

  10. pooja says:

    plz help i hv nly 1 n half mnth to study bt ny prblm is m slow i cnt catch my sylbs…plz gv me sm tips or any.kind of sugtns..plz plz…m waitng :'(

    • Nabha Cosley says:

      Pooja, not sure I understand your question with all those missing vowels, but I’d suggest the same thing as I have before: create an environment that helps you concentrate. Turn off your cell phone (if you have one), television, music, etc., and just do your best to focus.

      People read and learn at different speeds. Speed-reading courses exist and have helped people improve, but since you only have two weeks left, you probably just have to accept the rate at which you learn and spend more time studying.

      If you want inspiration, you might want to read Chapter 10 from Autobiography of a Yogi, in which Yogananda receives divine help in passing his examinations.

  11. Keerthan says:

    wow…. great tips… it really helped me

  12. Ramana Singh Kshatriya says:

    Hi,

    I am very much impressed with your blog and I got to know the perfect definition of concentration. Thank you so much for sharing your valuable blog.

    Regards,
    Ramana Singh Kshatriya

    • Swetha says:

      Hi
      I always overthink about someone/useless things….frequently and continusly I always get stuck upp by these thoughts……I just can’t concentrate on one thing….since last 2years I am been suffering lot and even I lost 10kgs and sometimes I get depressed sitting at home …… My husband says if I go to work evrythng becomes normal but I am scared to talk anyone eye to eye contact….how could I work with so many people and focusing in my work please help me and I am badly in need!!!

      • Nayaswami Pranaba says:

        Dear Swetha,

        It might be helpful, as Paramhansa Yogananda suggested, to go on a “worry fast” to help get rid of all those intruding thoughts.

        Here is his suggestion:

        Three times a day shake off all worries.

        1) from 7am – 8am in the morning
        With great deliberation and willingness, say to yourself,
        “All my worries of the night are cast out. I refuse to worry, no matter how troublesome are the duties ahead of me.”

        2) from noon to 1pm
        Remind yourself of your fast by saying,
        “I am cheerful, I will not worry!”

        3) from 6pm to 9pm in the evening
        Mentally make a strong resolution
        “Within these three hours I will not worry; I refuse to get vexed, even if I am nagged.”

        Tell your mind,
        “I can do only my best; no more. I am satisfied and happy that I am doing my best to solve my problems; there is absolutely no reason why I should worry.”

        Then focus on joy as a cure for worry.

        Try to feast regularly on the company of joyful minds. Feast on laughter in the company of really joyful people.

        Once you have become accustomed to letting go of worries, then you can apply this to any intruding thoughts that you want to be rid of.

  13. sneha says:

    I need more information

    • Nabha says:

      Yes, one page isn’t really enough, is it? :)

      I’d really recommend learning meditation, as that will help you gain the experience of concentration. The Learn to Meditate course offered by Online with Ananda would be a good starting place. Or you can also read a lot about it for free here on this website.

      You can learn a lot about concentration tips and techniques as well, out there. Here’s an article that talks about how multitasking is not helpful, about a 2009 scientific study at Stanford.

      Based on your feedback and those of others, I think this is a topic we should write more about as well. But of course the real thing is to put the advice into practice.

  14. sachin bagga says:

    sir i tried a lot,,,when i try to go in mediation i feel my eyes crumbling….i feel my mouth to be dried….what can i do to go in a deep mediation….

    • Nabha Cosley says:

      Hi Sachin,

      Glad you asked. My advice to you would be to continue to practice the Hong-Sau Technique and progress in that way. The technique really works, and if you stick with it, you will find it working for you.

      Paramhansa Yogananda used to say that, to become a concert pianist, one has to practice for hours a day, and do special exercises to strengthen the fingers. With meditation, so many people expect to get results quickly, and sometimes they come quickly, but not always. In those situations, you must persist, even when it is challenging.

      As for your eyes and dry mouth, my understanding is that those experiences will pass: either they will stop happening, or they won’t make a difference to you.

      Joy to you,
      Nabha

  15. mind cat says:

    Under heavy stress when we are looking for a solution to a problem and we need to get that problem solved no matter how, we focus all our energy on one thing.
    in these situations, we focus only on one thing.
    Does our body knows how to do that automatically in stressful conditions??
    please advise.

    • Nabha Cosley says:

      That’s a very interesting question. I would say that’s not our body, but our mind that knows how to focus one-pointedly in situations that we care about very intensely. It’s a consequence of how much we care about them — if we have a very strong desire for the outcome to be a certain way.

      There’s a clue here to improve our concentration: If we are deeply interested in something, if we care about it, then our mind will focus naturally. In fact, it may be hard to think about anything else!

  16. Samvedhna says:

    when i try to concentrate on one point, many things and past bad experiences come in my mind, the comments of others disturb me and they get stored into my mind and occurs every now and then thereby reducing my efficiency. At last, it’s only the regret that lefts. Kindly assist how to get rid of this situation.

    • Nabha Cosley says:

      Good question. Our minds can be very unruly creatures — that’s why good meditation techniques usually give you something to concentrate your mind on, like the breath.

      Negative thinking can be a big drain on energy. When something comes up, change your focus instead to the positive — for example with a positive affirmation that you can memorize, like “I leave behind me both my failures and accomplishments. What I do today will create a new and better future, filled with inner joy.”

      Or, look for something to be grateful about from the experience.

      If you regret your own actions and have faith in God, reflect that maybe things happened the way they did for a reason. Ultimately regret won’t help you.

      We can’t always control our thoughts, but we do have a choice as to how to respond to them.

  17. salim shrestha says:

    please help me.
    i want to read and secure best marks at my exams. but when i start to read ifeel asleep or i cannot concerntrate in my book.what should i do for that?

    • Nabha Cosley says:

      Hi Salim, there are many things you can do to improve your concentration while studying. Check out some of the other comments here for answers to people who have asked pretty much the same question.

  18. Priyansha says:

    I guess aromatherapy helps in improving your concentration levels to a great extent. I buy Aroma products mostly from Cycle Pure brand and make sure I lit the incense sticks before starting off meditation. It helps me open up my senses and meditate with better concentration. I have heard a lot of people doing off while meditation, by following this technique you can get rid of that as well. And also aromatherapy and meditation have a lot of health benefits.

  19. harneesh kaur says:

    Iam a stuent.Plz can you suggest me any way to keep off negative energy and create and create a positive environment to concentrate on my studies and to remain peacefully. Plz can send comment as early as possible

    • Nabha Cosley says:

      Hi Harneesh, Paramhansa Yogananda said that “environment is stronger than will power.” How you create that environment has to depend a lot on what the possibilities are and what your current situation is, but you should try to aim for something like this:

      – quiet
      – no one else there (if possible)
      – no distractions — e.g. turn off your cellphone if necessary
      – choose maybe an hour at a time to concentrate, then take a short break (look up “Pomodoro technique” for more information)

      You may have to make some sacrifices to have this work, but it will be worth it once you find the right setup for you!

      • mak says:

        sir i am a ca final student ..inspite of preparing well for the exams i am not abe to perform well in my exams..i think this is because of low concentration ..i am thinking to change my studying methods ..pls suggest .

  20. Abhishek says:

    Always I am tryng to concentrate on studies ,but I failed to do so .If I read one paragrph by putng my best efforts aftrer 3 to 5 mins I frget all & failed to remember and concentrate further

  21. Lama Surya Das says:

    Concentration requires a great amount of effort and time. Improve your concentration and focus with meditate. The practice of meditation will definitely improve your powers of concentration. A daily period of meditation gives us the chance to work specifically on concentration techniques.

  22. gunanidhi says:

    Nice points sir and have gone carefully. Sir, want to know that though reading with written communication sometimes I forget the beginning , on looking to the question i flash back that i have prepared throught, but faces difficult in starting because i could could flash back the starting, pl. advice how to keep up the memory.

  23. romel says:

    nice points

    • Anu says:

      i also tried to cocentrate ,,,but oll d recent hapng keep moving in ma mind at dat moment …so it create prblm to concentrate plzzzz tell me andr facts that i cn cncntrte

  24. saurabh jain says:

    sir, i m really inspired by your methods for concentrations. But i want to know when and at what time of the day we can practice meditations

    • Nabha Cosley says:

      Briefly: any time that works for you! That is, any time that you can consistently meditate at is the best time.

      For many people this is after they wake up and before they go to sleep; or instead of before sleep, perhaps immediately after work, if you have trouble getting tired as you meditate. Some people also like to meditate at noon.

      Paramhansa Yogananda also said that especially good times to meditate are at 6:00 am (sunrise), noon, 6:00 pm (sunset), and midnight. I also find it easier to go deep in meditation earlier than 6:00 am or after about 9:30 pm, when most people are sleeping — but I’m not often awake and meditating at those times currently.

      Experiment, and see what works best and is sustainable for you.

  25. SUNIL YADAV says:

    thnaks for these points.

    good.

    i ll implement thises in my life.

    sk.

  26. latha says:

    i m happy in ways of increase concentration

  27. abinaya says:

    how to take a break in the middle of a class

    • Nabha Cosley says:

      Hah! Well, that might not go over well with some teachers, even if it could help you learn better.

      Depending on the class, a teacher might let you do quiet exercises in the back, which would help refocus your mind, and has been shown by research to improve learning (so I understand). It’s worth a try, at least.

      Failing that, the best thing is probably to take relaxing breaks between classes and focus as well as you can during the class. If a class is too much, and you find your mind wandering, you could wander with it, and do a breathing exercise for a minute. Then lead your attention back to the matter at hand.

      Interest is key. Try to be dynamically interested in what you are learning. Think about it in different ways. Ask questions that haven’t occurred to anyone else.

      Experiment. Everyone is unique, and you’ll need to find what works best for you.

  28. Ashish samal says:

    How concentration is related to determination.

  29. Denzil says:

    Looking for ways to motivate distressed and unsure futures staff.
    What practical ways can i do this?

  30. Harsh Vardhan says:

    I wanted to that how i can get rid off distrations during studies . At examination time i am always distracted by some or the other thoughts running in my mind and thats why i make mistakes.