Concentrating from the Heart – Both meditation and life are much easier when your head and your heart are in the same place!

One of the perennial questions that I get asked, and that meditators across the world struggle with on a daily basis is “How can I keep my mind focused in meditation? It seems so difficult!” Here is one technique that I practice and sometimes teach to people that I describe as ‘learning to concentrate from the heart’.

It is based around the observation that, if you are engaged with an object of meditation emotionally and from your heart, then your mind will tend to find it easy to keep its focus. However, if you are trying to focus your mind in meditation but your heart is somewhere else, then you it will be a constant struggle as your mind strives to be in one place, and the heart seeks to be in another. Below is a basic technique that is quite easy to understand, and once you have practised it a few times, you will be able to adjust it according to your point of balance and creatively make it your own. 

Learning to concentrate from the heart:

1.  Bring to mind something that moves your heart and body to a state of love and engaged emotionality. The potential object is very varied here; someone you love, the most significant kiss of your life, sitting by your favourite river, stamp collecting, a past heightened mystical experience, a project that excites you… The main thing is that it moves YOUR heart, engages YOUR emotions, awakens a certain sense of rapture within YOUR heart and body that you can feel tangibly and deeply.

2. Once the feeling is there, use the breathing to breathe the energy of the experience in and out of your heart space (center of your chest). As time goes by, keep the feeling, but allow its intensity to reduce slightly, and gradually increase your focus on the breathing so that the heartfelt emotion is being combined with a single-pointedness of concentration on the breathing.

Practice being able to combine the arousal and engagement of your heart with the single-pointedness of your concentration in this way.

3. When you are familiar with the basic process described in points 1&2, you can then practice shifting your point of focus away from the original object that engaged your heart to a new meditation object. For example you can shift the rapture of your remembrance of your first love (or your first stamp collection) onto a feeling of love for living beings as a whole, Or the feeling of compassion that you had as a nine year old for a kitten to a love for all the animal kingdom.

The main thing I want to flag up with this article is that meditative concentration without engaging the heart is hard work. Meditation with the heart engaged makes it relatively easy to keep focus, and induces the levels of bliss and rapture that we can experience through meditative concentration much more readily and rapidly! 

© Toby Ouvry 2010, you are welcome to use this article, but you MUST seek Toby’s permission first. Contact info@tobyouvry.com

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