Mindful concentration in an age of distraction

Dear Integral Meditators,

How can we build our mindful concentration when oftentimes we find ourselves in environments that encourage us to do the opposite? The article below offers a structure for us to get started!

In the spirit of mindful concentration,


Mindful concentration in an age of distraction

In an age where we are surrounded more distractions than ever before, the skill of being able to focus our mind in a single pointed manner has never been more important. Concentration (here meaning simply the ability to keep your mind and attention focused upon one object for an extended period of time) offers many benefits, amongst others:

  • Increased mental peace
  • The ability to get things done more effectively and with greater quality execution
  • Greater benevolent control of our mind, body and feelings

Concentration is also central to the practice of mindful meditation. If you can’t keep your mind focused, then it’s really impossible to achieve lasting results from your mindfulness practice, so building good concentration technique is a really essential for good mindfulness.
What I want to explain in this article is a daily mindful concentration practice that you can do as a complete beginner in order to build mindful concentration.
It is also a practice that you can do if you are a more advanced practitioner, but want to have a very short exercise daily exclusively related to concentration. One thing I notice is that it is very easy for our basic concentration technique to degrade over time unless we renew it daily.

Day of the month mindful concentration
The object of this exercise is very simple; keep your mind focused on the breathing. Each day of the month has a number, from 1-30/31. Every day your job is to sit down at least once and focus your mind on the breathing for the number of breaths that relate to that date. So for example today is May 21st, so my job today is simply to sit down at some point and focus on my breathing for 21 breaths without getting distracted. If whilst I am doing the exercise I get distracted, the I have to start again. The rules are I have to do 21 without distraction on the 21st of the month.
This will go on, increasing by one breath at a time until the 31st of May, when I do 31 breaths. So then on 1st June I go back to just one mindful breath(!), building up to 30 breaths on 30th June. On the days of the month that are small numbers, then of course you can take more than one mindful breath, but the point is if, every day of the year you spend between 10seconds and 5 minutes practice, your capacity for mindful concentration is going to increase with only a very small amount of effort on your part.

Drops of water in a jug
This practice relies upon consistency. If you keep dripping water in a jug, then eventually it will fill. If for every day of the year you concentrate on a small number of mindful breaths each day, you will find the effects are far reaching!

© Toby Ouvry 2016, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website www.tobyouvry.com

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