Why Is It Important to Stay Focused During Meditation?

Every day we absorb ourselves in the activities of our lives and living – family, home, work, school, recreation, social life, etc. Shifting gears to focus on the inner life is not something most of us can do spontaneously or easily. Moving from engagement with the conscious mind, normal awareness, and the state of our affairs takes dedicated time and practice.

This herculean task is daunting enough but we cannot truly meditate until we have learned to quiet the mind, calm the body, and focus. We need to learn how to increase concentration in meditation; we need techniques, strategies, and a pioneering spirit to redirect our energy and attention to explore the inner superconscious states.

[Meditation] is a state of intense inward awareness, a state in which one’s attention is no longer engaged in cheering onward the parade that life marches past us of projects and problems, but is wholly engrossed in the superconscious experience. –Swami Kriyananda

Our minds are naturally restless. Our bodies are naturally fidgety. How do we control our thoughts and stop our minds from wandering? Why is it important to stay focused during meditation? How to focus during meditation?

What happens when you are watching a movie and someone is talking  – and you are also distracted and busy doing something else? You might get snatches of the dialogue. You might hear some of the music in the background or catch a few glimpses of the scenes. You might also get some notions about the characters involved and pick up a few hints about the plot.

However, if the noise, distractions, and restlessness continue, you will not be able to pay attention and you will not be able to listen. Your averted attention and focus will cause you to miss the whole point, purpose, and story of the movie playing out in front of you. The next thing we know, the credits are rolling and our time has expired. This is what happens when we are restless and our wandering minds dominate our meditations. We cannot listen or hear the soul’s guidance.

The essential attitude for correct meditation is one of listening. The difference between prayer and meditation is that in prayer we talk to God, whereas in meditation we listen for His answer. –Swami Kriyananda

The good news is that practicing meditation can help us to stay focused and quiet the mind. We can learn to settle down and be still. We can channel and tune our thoughts to their highest octaves. Here are 10 strategies that help.

10 Ways To Improve Focus During Meditation

1) Concentrate Without Physical Tension

Many new meditators, in an effort to concentrate more deeply, tense the muscles in their body. Deep concentration, however, is possible only in a state of relaxation.

2) Relax the Body

To improve concentration in meditation, you need to start by relaxing the body. A very effective way to release stored-up bodily tension is to inhale and tense the whole body, and then release the tension as you exhale. Yogananda recommended tensing and relaxing, as well as the Regular Breathing Technique before meditation.

3) Pray Before You Meditate

This will help you remember why you are meditating! You will also be inviting the Divine, or your Higher Self, to help you in your practice.

4) Sit Perfectly Still

Moving your body the slightest amount sends energy, or life-force, into the muscles. Since the purpose of yoga is to draw your energy inward, any physical movement reduces your effort because it draws your energy and awareness into the body. To keep yourself from fidgeting during meditation, try thinking of your body as a rock — solid and unmoving.

5) Sit Longer

Your restlessness will subside the longer you sit in meditation. Even a glass of muddy water becomes clear in time, if the water is allowed to sit undisturbed.

6) Keep Your Eyes Gently Raised

The point between the eyebrows, or spiritual eye, is the seat of concentration in the body, and whenever we need to concentrate deeply, we naturally focus there. It is very beneficial to keep the eyes lifted, without strain, during meditation. If you do, you will notice an improvement in your concentration.

7) Focus on the Breath

Many yoga and meditation techniques emphasize the breath. These are great meditation techniques for focus and concentration.

There is prana all around us and in the air we breathe that can be of tremendous physical and spiritual benefit.

Here are a couple of useful breathing techniques that help us to stay focused during meditation. Watching the breath also quiets the mind and emotions while meditating or just when we are sitting quietly.

Watching the Breath – Breathe from the diaphragm and extend that air into the lungs. Pay attention to the feeling and sensation of air filling your lungs. Feel cool air entering your nostrils as you inhale and feel the warm air in the nostrils as you exhale. Allow the breath to calm and slow down naturally without making an effort to control it.

Measured Breathing – This is another enjoyable breathing technique. Measured breathing has 3 parts: inhale, hold, and exhale. During each part of this practice, use a count that is comfortable for you to manage. For example inhale for 6, hold for 6, and exhale for 6. Adjust the count to whatever works best for you.

8) Consciously Withdraw the Energy From the Body

Practice the Hong-Sau Meditation Technique; it is one of the most sacred techniques of yoga because of its ability to interiorize and focus the mind.

9) To Develop Concentration, Do one Thing at a Time, and Do It Well!

When you really want something, it is difficult not to think about it! Concentrate with interest on whatever you do, and you will find yourself absorbed in it.

10) Pray for Concentration and Devotion

Sincerity means having the support of one’s whole being. Pray for sincerity of effort in your meditation practice!

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