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How to improve Concentration, the Yoga and Ayurveda way

Power of Concentration made Eklavya a ace archer
  • This article describes how to improve Concentration the Yoga and Ayurveda way

Radiant Immortal Atman!

 

I salute my Yoga Gurudev, Sri Swami Sivananda Saraswati, Sri Swami Vishnu-devananda and Sri Swami Chidananda from Adi Shankaracharya parampara – lineage.

 

This article is based on my experience of Swami Sivananda's book Yoga in Daily Life, Swami Vishnu-devananda’s books Meditation and Mantras, and Complete Illustrated Book of Yoga, and Dr. David Frawley’s book Yoga and Ayurveda.

 

Proper Yogic and Ayurvedic diet improves concentration.

 

Enjoy the following Satvic foods based on your Ayurvedic constitution:

Fresh fruit, vegetables except onion and garlic, whole grains, beans and lentils in moderation, nuts and seeds not overly roasted and oiled, good natural plant based oils, ghee, dairy products from well-treated cows, natural sugars like raw brown sugar, Jaggery, honey, maple syrup, molasses, sweet spices like ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, fennel, cumin, coriander, turmeric, mint, basil, fenugreek, herbal teas, natural water, fruit juices.

 

Avoid or reduce the following:

Meat, artificial, processed and junk food, canned food, poor quality oils, animal fats and margarine, garlic, onions and overly spicy food, fried food, white sugar, white flour, artificial sweeteners and condiments, overcooked, old, recooked, stale foods, alcohol, tobacco or other stimulants, artificial beverages, microwaved food, food taken too quickly, in disturbed environment or when upset.

 

Fix the mind on some object either inside or outside the body for some time. This is Dharana - concentration. Practice this daily. Purify the mind through right conduct (i.e. the yamas and niyamas). 

 

A person who has steady posture and has purified the nerve and the vital sheaths through constant practice of the control of the breath can easily concentrate.

 

Pranayama is control of the breath. It is beneficial to health, steadies the body and is highly conducive to the concentration of the mind.

 

Proper Exercise (Asana) Yoga regards the body as a vehicle for the soul on its evolutionary journey. Accordingly, yogic physical exercises or asanas are designed to develop the body, mind, and spirit. Performed slowly and consciously, each asana (which translates as “steady pose”) is a physical exercise, as well as an exercise in concentration and meditation. 

 

Yogis understand that the body is as young as it is flexible and yoga asanas stretch the entire body, toning the muscles, joints, spine, and skeletal system. The internal organs, glands, and nerves are also benefitted, resulting in overall radiant health.

 

As Yoga postures are always practiced with deep breathing, relaxation, and concentration, the Asanas also help to develop mental control. The mind that is unsteady by nature and constantly agitated by sensory inputs becomes withdrawn and detached from the objects of the senses, freed from distractions, and slowly brought under control.

 

Sirsasana - Headstand is of particular benefit to those who need concentration, power in their work, such as students, politicians, scientists, and writers.

 

You can concentrate internally on any of the inner energy centers- chakras. By developing power of attention, you will have good concentration.

 

Tratak is a very effective concentration exercise. First, focus your eyes on an external object or on a single spot without blinking. Then you close your eyes and concentrate on the mental image of this object. This exercise increases our power of attention and ultimately leads to one-pointed concentration.

 

Reduce desires, otherwise the mind will continue jumping like a monkey.

 

By practicing pratyahara, withdrawal of the senses, abstraction, you will have good concentration. Reduce worldly activities and practice periods of silence daily.

 

To lay a good foundation start daily practice with asanas, pranayama, right conduct and abstraction. Then only will the superstructure of concentration and meditation be successful.

 

Concentration is a prerequisite to Meditation

You should be able to visualize the object of concentration clearly even if it not there. You can concentrate upon a physical object, such as a flame of a lamp, the mid-point of the eyebrows, or the image of a deity. At the initial stage, the mind can rest on a pleasing object.

 

Sit in Padmasana - Lotus Pose, Siddhasana - adept pose, ArdhaSiddasana - half adept pose, or Sukhasana - comfortable cross legged position with straight spine. Concentrate on Ajna Chakra between eyebrows with eyes closed - or nasal gaze with eyes half open. Practice daily increasing to half an hour. This reduces the restlessness of the mind.

 

If the mind wanders do not fight with it. Gently bring the attention back to the focal point. 

 

By repeated practice the mind will finally be fixed on the heart centre, the Self, the Indweller of your heart, the final goal. It will rest there in satisfaction - bliss divine.

 

Concentration on a flower

In this exercise, you close your eyes and imagine a garden with a rich variety of flowers. Then you slowly focus your attention on a single flower. You visualise the colour, form, texture and scent of this flower, and hold this concentration for as long as possible.

 

Concentration on a sound

Here, you might listen to the ticking of a clock. When your mind starts wandering, you bring it back to the sound. If there are several background sounds, you can choose the one that is most distinct and concentrate on this for some time - like a witness, without reacting in any way.

 

Now let us see what happened while hearing the ticking sound of the clock. The majority must have completely suspended the breath; the others, who have less concentration, must have had very slow breathing. Thus, it proves that where there is concentration of the mind, the breathing becomes very slow or even suspension may take place temporarily. The suspension of mental activity increases in proportion to the slowness of breath.

 

Yogic teachings declare that through pranayama, will power, self-control, concentration power, moral qualifications, and spiritual evolution can be increased.

 

The practice of concentration may seem tedious in the beginning, while new grooves are bring formed in the mind. After a while, the mind begins to relish it.

 

Concentration bestows supreme joy, inner spiritual strength, clarity and infinite eternal bliss. It provides the reception space for communication with Paramatman, the Supreme Self.

 

Author was born in India and lives in Ontario, Canada. She is an Artist, Writer, Classical Hatha Yoga Teacher, Classical Indian Musician & Dancer, Sanskrit Scholar, Reiki Master, Nature Lover, and retired Engineer.

 

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