It is quite common for many of us to have a preconceived idea about meditation, what it is and how it works, even before we have ever practiced it. In the Yoga tradition, concentration (dharana in Sanskrit) is a preparatory stage for meditation. Concentration is just the ability to keep our mind focused on the same object, image, sound or idea for a brief period of time. We often price our mind’s ability to connect disparate thoughts, memories and ideas in a variety of ways. However, in many types of yoga practice it seems that the mind is the first aspect of our being that gets distracted. For instance, in asana practice, our breath may be flowing fully and without obstacles and our body be be able to stay in the posture in a perfect balance between firmness and ease but our mind may be the first to move out of the posture into thinking about what posture comes next, or about the activities we were engaged in before the practice or the plans we might have for the rest of our day. In such cases, what might be lacking is not strength or flexbility in the body or breathing integrity but mind strength to keep our focus. Just as we persist gradually in our conscious effort to improve the strength and flexibility of our muscles, tissues and bones, and to increase our breathing capacity, it makes snese to work on increasing our mind’s strength.
Here is a simple concentration exercise to work on strengthen our ability to keep our mind focused. This exercise takes just 2 minutes at a time and consists of looking at a clock for 2 whole minutes while keeping our full attention on the numbers as they change. You can use any clock at an appropriate place. Or you may use the countdown clock below, by clicking on the ‘play’ button.
Just try it and pay attention to what you notice. It is quite possible that you might get distracted. However, if you try gradually and with gentle persistence you might notice your mind becoming better able to stay focused.
Of course, remember that we are never interested in straining or forcing at any level. So give this a try as often as feels appropriate for you, enjoy the process and see what happens.
I hope that you find this exercise useful.
Simple guided meditation with Rubén