I am 32 years old, i will be graduating next march , and now i am unable to concentrate properly while studying , i write stick notes and maintain planner but still loose my concentration while studying or i neglect and postpone. I know this is procrastination but can you tell me some techniques how can i improve my concentration.
—MSO, United States
The secret of concentration lies in the heart. If you love something, it is hard not to concentrate on it.
When you watch a movie which you really like, aren’t you fully concentrated, and totally absorbed? People become perfect yogis in the cinema hall, Yogananda said. And why? Their mind is interested and their heart says “yes,” because they love the film.
Not concentrating and procrastinating is simply because we are divided in two: one part in us says, “I want to concentrate”, while the other rejects it, and would rather concentrate on something else.
So what to do? We need to convince our mind and heart to love the subject we are studying.
Or, in the case of meditation, we need to learn to love our object of meditation. We need to stimulate our mind to say fully “yes” to it: “It is mine, I want it, I love it.” For this reason meditation is truly an art, very personal in nature: many things can stimulate our personal interest, for example adding a visualisation to the technique, bringing devotion into it, being creative inwardly. But if the heart is not in it, we won’t get anywhere.
Swami Kriyananda as a young man had that same problem as you had: studying but always procrastinating. He was studying Greek. The situation became extremely bleak. Finally he had only one day left to study before the exams. Here is his story, in his own words, from his book, The New Path:
Necessity, it is said, is the mother of invention. Fortunately for me, my present extremity displayed the right, maternal instinct. Out of the blue an inspiration appeared. “You are a Greek,” I told myself with all the concentration I could muster; I resolutely adjusted myself to this new identity. The results were astonishing. As an American, I had found the study of Greek difficult. Now, however, as a Greek, “my own” language came to me with surprising ease. Through some subtle channel in the network of consciousness that binds all men together, I felt myself suddenly in tune with Greek ways of thinking and speaking. Approaching this new language as an old friend, moreover, I no longer faced the age-old problem of the student who, while trying to attract knowledge with one half of his mind, pushes it away with the other half by his unwillingness to learn. My entire mental flow was unidirectional. For two hours I absorbed Greek grammar and vocabulary like a dry sponge in water. At last I could hold no more.
There were only two students who passed the Greek exam that year, and Swami Kriyananda was one of them.
I don’t know what you are studying. But if it is, say, engineering, affirm with all possible concentration, again and again, “I am an engineer!” Identify yourself with it, get into it, love it, make it your own. Then it will become natural to concentrate on your subject, to absorb it. If not, the battle is hard to win.
Some practical hints for stimulating and developing concentration:
– Yogananda recommends milk as an aid for concentration. Oranges and lemons, he taught, stimulate the brain. Try it. Don’t eat too much when you need to study (or meditate). Otherwise your life-force is all in your stomach. Drink a lot of water.
– You may practice a pranayama before studying, to stimulate your brain: Inhale deeply through your nose for a count of 8, and feel that cool current passing through the nose, filling and refreshing the entire brain. Then hold your breath for a count of 8, looking at the point between the eyebrows (the point of concentration). Finally, exhale through your nose to a count of 8, feeling the brain awake and refreshed. Repeat 6 or 12 times.
– If you practice yoga postures, the inverted poses stimulate concentration and all mental faculties. I personally practiced them before exams, and it was great.
– Try to meditate each day a little, concentrating on the spiritual eye between the eyebrows, which is the point of concentration in the body. Focus there completely, but without tension, stimulating that point.
– During the day, whatever you do, try to do one thing at a time, and try to do it with all your attention. Don’t let yourself be distracted. This too helps with concentration. It’s a little daily discipline for our ever-restless mind!
– Avoid TV and films as much as you can. Studies have found that the fast change of images ruins our concentration. Books are better.
All the best for your love-filled concentration, Jayadev