Breathing Technique for Improving Concentration (Pranayama)
April 14, 2014
This technique can really help you improve your concentration right at the point between the eyebrows, just inside from there, is the esoteric center of concentration. But it's also been shown in modern medical research that that part of the brain is the center of concentration.
We're going to practice a technique called Surya Bheda Pranayama, Expanding Sun Breath, which is a very stimulating technique. We're going to focus that stimulation at this point to enhance the power of concentration.
Practicing Surya Bheda Pranayama
After we've done a few rounds of Surya Bheda in which you inhale through the right nostril with the left nostril heel closed, you hold both nostrils closed, and then you exhale through the left with the right nostril still closed, then we'll move into an additional technique. We'll add Jalandhar Bandha, the chin lock, in which during the retention you hold the chin at the chest. Keep the chest lifted, don't let the chest collapse, keep it lifted. You continue to gaze toward the point between the eyebrows the whole time.
This is very quieting and calming for the mind. It will help you focus even more. So let's sit upright with a straight spine, palms up at junction of thighs and abdomen. Relax the body, close the eyes and lift your gaze slightly above the horizontal toward the spiritual eye.
Bring the right hand into Vishnu Mudra, which is to say curl the first two fingers of the right hand down to the palm. Use the tips of the little and ring fingers to close off the left nostril. Take a slow inhalation through the right nostril, count of six. Hold both closed, open left, six closed. Left inhale right and hold both, exhale left, inhale right.
Continue with eight counts or if shorter is more comfortable go ahead and use a shorter count. As you inhale really try to feel the incoming breath stimulating that area at the point between the eyebrows. Feel that coolness as you hold. Do concentrate your awareness at that point. As you exhale feel like you're blowing away any scatteredness, fragmentation of your awareness.
Adding Jalandhar Bandha
Next, breath, inhale right. When we retain the breath we're going to do the chin lock, Jalandhar Bandha. So hold chin to chest, keep gazing toward the spiritual eye, lift the chin, exhale left, inhale right. Hold the breath a bit longer this time, lift the chin, exhale left.
Inhale right, we'll do three more breaths. As you hold the breath let's let the breath stay held as long as it wants to but don't force it. If the body needs to exhale come back to upright and exhale left.
Two more breaths with that long, luxurious, focused retention of the breath. Just feel every aspect of your awareness coming to a single point there. So focused, so alive, except when you need to exhale.
Last time through, Jalandhar Bandha, focus at the spiritual eye and enjoy the focus. Don't make it work, don't make it a labor, it's enjoyable, it's when your mind is most powerful. If you need to exhale go back to upright and exhale through the left nostril. Release the hand, right hand to lap once again.
After the Practice
Sit quietly, enjoy that focused awareness at the point between the eyebrows. Feel you can turn your attention one-pointedly on anything you choose to focus on. Enjoy that strong, strong faculty of concentration, effortless, engrossing, enjoyable.
Try to sustain that concentration as you now slowly open the eyes once again. Don't let the mind roam, keep it very still, just immersed in the present moment. Keep trying to keep your attention emanating from the spiritual eye as much as you can throughout your day, not just while you're practicing Pranayama.
Try to act from that point. Feel that every action is originating at the point between the eyebrows and expanding out into your life from there. Live one thing at a time. When you live that way your concentration will go very strong.