We usually think of concentration like any other skill; we get better at it with practice, by applying more effort. While the former is absolutely true, the latter is not always so, and in fact trying harder to concentrate often leads to more inner turmoil. Like a Chinese finger trap, the more I tried to escape my restless, distractible nature, the more stuck in it I became.
By Erin Oke
In practice we have the opportunity to explore what works for each of us as individuals to build and stabilize concentration in practice and in life. Do you get fascinated by the whole forest of experience, or absorbed by the minutia of a single tree? Do you prefer to focus on the deep places inside yourself, or fix your gaze on a flickering flame, tune your ear to the birdsong outside? What are you interested in, pleased by, served by? Follow that. It’s hard to get any kind of traction in meditation without concentration of some kind, so let’s focus, people!
By Avi Craimer
After minutes of aimless mind wandering, you’ve had the a-ha moment, waking up out of the reverie and now you actually have a choice again about what to do with your attention! Congratulations, but it is what you do next that is absolutely crucial. Most people, even many very experienced meditators would say, “as soon as you wake up and remember, immediately bring your attention back to your breath.” That is what you’ll read in most books, what you’ll hear in most teacher talks, and it’s what I taught my own students until recently. There is nothing wrong with that approach, but I’ve become aware of a subtle tweak that I believe will help to radically speed up the development of stable concentration.