Concentration is the secret key to a whole world of possibilities, enabling you to keep out distractions and focus on attaining your life goals. In addition it is an absolute prerequisite if you want to learn the art of meditation, as it helps ˜clear the road" of any mental obstacles. However if anything the average concentration span is decreasing as life gets busier and busier and the world becomes filled with more things to distract and scatter our attention.
Here is one very easy-to-learn concentration exercise which was taught to me by my meditation teacher Sri Chinmoy. It can reap tremendous rewards in terms of clarity, productivity and efficiency in your life, and it can be done with just a few minutes practice every day. People commonly view concentration as purely a mental exercise; but here we are also going to use our heart center, that space in our chest we point to when we say ˜me“ helping to take some of the burden away from our tension filled minds.
An object of concentration best is to use a candle or flower, but you can even use a dot on the wall.
- In this exercise, we will use the candle, although you can adapt the exercise to whatever object you are using. Sit with your back straight, and place the burning candle at eye level.
- First bring your awareness to your breath. Gradually your breath becomes slower and more relaxed. Try to imagine a thread placed in front of our nose; you are breathing so quietly it will not move to and fro.
- Now we look at the object. Gradually bring your attention to a tiny part of the candle flame, for example, the very tip of the flame.
- When you breathe in, feel that your breath, like a golden thread, is coming from that point on the candle and entering into your heart. And when you breath out, feel that your breath, feel that the light is leaving the heart, passing through a point in your forehead between the eyebrows and a little above (in Eastern philosophy this is a powerful concentration point) and then entering into the object of concentration. Try to feel that nothing else exists except you and the object you are focusing on.
- When you do this exercise, thoughts will invariably get in the way. When this happens, don't be annoyed or upset, just bring your attention back to the exercise. Rome wasn't built in a day, and similarly it will take time to rein in your mind.
- (if you have the time) You can go one step further, and use your power of concentration to identify with the objects existence. Try to feel on the in-breath that the existence of the flame, and the qualities it embodies such as radiance, serenity and aspiration, are entering into you and becoming part of your own existence. On the out-breath, feel that your existence is expanding and spreading out from the center of the chest and entering into the candle. In this way, you concentrate on the object to such an extent that you feel no separation between you and the object; your existence has expanded to include the candle. In this way you can identify your self with the entire world.
Start off with a modest goal i.e 3-5 minutes a day, and then gradually increase with time. After only a couple of weeks of doing this exercise, you should notice the progress a clearer mind, better ability to cope with tasks, less stress, more serenity.
Meditation for World Peace
Peace begins in the heart of each individual. When you center yourself in the love of God and focus your thoughts on peace, you create a sacred place within your heart, dedicated to experiencing and expressing the love of God. As you then begin to let divine love radiate out from you to your family and friends, you take the first step in generating peace around you. When you extend your thoughts of love and peace to your community, your country, and then to nations and people everywhere, you create an atmosphere of peace that embraces the world.
For Survivors of Sexual Abuse
When I give full recognition and expression to my feelings and hear someone else out as well, a sense of resolution and well-being enters.
So often when others cross our boundaries or we cross theirs, we do not even understand that we've done so. Rather than explore our part in a conflict, we may drag out all our defenses to prove we are right, or to cling to an image of perfection. What started as an attempt to clarify something can easily end up as an argument in which we discount the feelings of another and have ours discounted.
When I realize I had no modeling in my childhood for conflict resolution, I sometimes feel very incompetent. I've only begun to learn true listening in my recovery, so I feel like a two- or three- or six year old. In a way I am those ages, and this is good reason to look for progress not perfection.
When I let go of notions of right and wrong an speak only to express, not to prove anything, then I will hear the messages of the heart's wounds, whether it is my heart or my partner's or friend's. When the heart has been made vulnerable and expressed itself, we begin healing and can move to a comfortable feeling of resolution.
For NA Members - Just for Today
"We believe that our Higher Power will take care of us."
We all have times when it seems as though our lives are falling apart. There are days, or even weeks, when it seems that everything that can go wrong is going wrong. Whether it's the loss of a job, the death of a loved one, or the end of a relationship, we doubt that we'll survive the changes taking place in our lives.
It's during the times when the world is crashing down around our ears that we find our greatest faith in a loving Higher Power. No human being could relieve our suffering; we know that only God's care can provide the comfort we seek. We feel broken but we go on, knowing that our lives will be repaired.
As we progress in our recovery and our faith in our Higher Power grows, we are sure to greet the difficult times with a sense of hope, despite the pain we may be in. We meed not despair, for we know that our Higher Power's care will carry us through when we can't walk on our own.
Just for today: I will rely on God's care through the painful times, knowing that my Higher Power will always be there.
Body, Mind & Spirit
How Important Is It?
The young man in the meeting was very angry and upset. His lawn mower had broken down. He was having a cookout in his back yard that evening, the yard "looked terrible," and he's paid a lot of money for that mower! After he went on for some time, an older woman gently interrupted him and asked, "Was anyone hurt? Was there danger? Would your guests walk out? And finally, "Did you lose your sobriety over it?" The young man smiled, as he answered "no" to all the questions. "No, it was not that important after all."
We all overreact sometimes to situations, people, and events that, later, we see were really not important. The next time we are bothered by someone or something that threatens to ruin our day, we will try to remember to ask ourselves, "How important is it?" If it's not important, we'll spend our time and energy on what is important. There is a world of difference.
Today help me to know what is important, to forget what's not, and ask others for perspective when I'm not sure.