Meditation techniques to improve concentration

Discussion of Samatha bhavana and Jhana bhavana.

Meditation techniques to improve concentration

Postby Calahand » Wed Mar 31, 2010 4:32 pm

Hi guys ,
I am a student and I always have trouble reading books for some reason. I decided to be mindful when I am reading my textbooks and I found out that as soon as I open my book, and start reading, after 2 sentences or so, my mind reels with other thoughts, goes to some funny event in the past, or some scary event in the future, or fantasizes about something, or does something else. I keep bringing it back, but a minute later, boom, there it goes again, it just gets frustrating sometimes. After 15 mins, I say enough, and go do something else, but then I suffer because I waste time that could be utilized to study. I was wondering if you guys could give me any better meditation tips or advice for me to help me be more productive when I am studying, your help is much appreciated :namaste: thanks.

:heart:
-Cal.
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Re: Meditation techniques to improve concentration

Postby Stephen » Wed Mar 31, 2010 4:40 pm

Mindfulness is our greatest treasure, but I recently received advice from a wise friend on a method that can help us maintain mindfulness during most any activity. Usually if we're not really thinking about it, we forget that we are a process (aggregates undergoing constant change), and perceive ourselves as a static "thing".

One useful thing to do is to train your mind to remain aware of your breath, no matter what you are doing. Being aware of the breath helps you remain aware that you are a process; this breath is life, without it the process ends and so do you.

It's pretty simple, but it has a subtle and profound effect. It comes fairly naturally to me because my preferred method of meditation is observance of the breath, but I don't think it would be difficult for you. Depending on you, it might also make activities you dislike seem less distasteful. The reason for this is that in remaining aware of the breath, that you are a process and not a static phenomena, you are distancing yourself from your "self".
The "self", which is a construct of the mind, is non-self. It is not us, and we are not it. This self blinds us to reality; it is our Mara, our Satan, our Hades. Cast it out and behold the path to freedom.
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Re: Meditation techniques to improve concentration

Postby PeterB » Wed Mar 31, 2010 4:59 pm

Nicely put Stephen. Another good thing about the breath as an object is that from first to last its portable..
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Re: Meditation techniques to improve concentration

Postby Calahand » Wed Mar 31, 2010 7:55 pm

hmm I guess, but its definitely not that easy for me, but will keep trying, thanks.
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Re: Meditation techniques to improve concentration

Postby acinteyyo » Wed Mar 31, 2010 8:41 pm

Calahand wrote:Hi guys ,
I am a student and I always have trouble reading books for some reason. I decided to be mindful when I am reading my textbooks and I found out that as soon as I open my book, and start reading, after 2 sentences or so, my mind reels with other thoughts, goes to some funny event in the past, or some scary event in the future, or fantasizes about something, or does something else. I keep bringing it back, but a minute later, boom, there it goes again, it just gets frustrating sometimes. After 15 mins, I say enough, and go do something else, but then I suffer because I waste time that could be utilized to study. I was wondering if you guys could give me any better meditation tips or advice for me to help me be more productive when I am studying, your help is much appreciated :namaste: thanks.

:heart:
-Cal.

Hi,
it reminds me of a passage in a book I'm reading. Gifts He Left Behind
67. I want to do well in my studies...

A young girl once said to Luang Pu, "I heard Grandfather Sorasak Kawngsuk say that anyone who wants to be intelligent and do well in her studies should first practice sitting in meditation to get the mind concentrated in stillness. I want to be intelligent and do well in my studies, so I've been trying to meditate and bring my mind to stillness, but it's never been willing to grow still. Sometimes I get even more restless than before. When my mind doesn't grow still in this way, how can I do well in my studies?"

Luang Pu answered,

"Simply focus on knowing what it is that you're studying, and that in itself will help you do well in your studies. When the mind's not still, have it know that it's not still. It's because you want so much for it to be still that it's not still. Just keep at your meditation in a calm way, and the day will come it'll grow still in line with your wishes."

best wishes, acinteyyo
Pubbe cāhaṃ bhikkhave, etarahi ca dukkhañceva paññāpemi, dukkhassa ca nirodhaṃ. (M.22)
Api cāhaṃ, āvuso, imasmiṃyeva byāmamatte kaḷevare, sasaññimhi samanake lokañca paññāpemi lokasamudayañca lokanirodhañca lokanirodhagāminiñca paṭipadan. (AN4.45)

:anjali:
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Re: Meditation techniques to improve concentration

Postby Ben » Wed Mar 31, 2010 9:03 pm

Calahand wrote:hmm I guess, but its definitely not that easy for me, but will keep trying, thanks.


It never is. Developing samadhi, even amongst long-established practitioners is one of those activities that border on the impossible. But that doesn't mean that its not worth doing. Samadhi is a form of mental training of fixing and maintaining one's attention on the object of contemplation. One of the most widely practiced forms of samadhi is the samatha variant of anapana-sati: observation of respiration. When one first begins this practice, it is akin to trying to grasp an eel. As soon as you begin to observe the breath, the mind slips away into thoughts of the past or future. In time and with continuity of application, it gets easier and the mind slowly becomes more compliant and stays with the object longer. A common form of anapanasati to generate samadhi is to maintain the awareness of the touch of the breath anywhere in the area in or around the nostrils and under the upper lip. Wherever you feel the breath, continue to observe the flow of air at that point for longer and longer periods. If your mind slips away - don't get upset - just bring it back. If you continue in this way, and maintain your five precepts, you will find that your concentration in your studies will slowly improve.
kind regards

Ben
Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.

Taṃ nadīhi vijānātha:
sobbhesu padaresu ca,
saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

Sutta Nipata 3.725


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Re: Meditation techniques to improve concentration

Postby nathan » Wed Mar 31, 2010 11:10 pm

Its possible to develop better concentration by doing memory exercises. Take some poetry or other short texts of around four lines and repeat them over and over until you can remember them at will throughout the day. Then repeat this with a new text. If you spend twenty or thirty minutes on that every morning and then recollect the passage throughout the day several times it will do a lot to develop a basic foundation for concentrating your mind. Once you develop the basic skill you will be able to use it for other purposes, everything from study to school to sports.

For getting better focused at reading, search for books that can hold your attention, topics that interest you or some kind of fiction that will hold your attention and start with that.
But whoever walking, standing, sitting, or lying down overcomes thought, delighting in the stilling of thought: he's capable, a monk like this, of touching superlative self-awakening. § 110. {Iti 4.11; Iti 115}
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Re: Meditation techniques to improve concentration

Postby Calahand » Thu Apr 01, 2010 4:29 am

Ben wrote:
It never is. Developing samadhi, even amongst long-established practitioners is one of those activities that border on the impossible. But that doesn't mean that its not worth doing. Samadhi is a form of mental training of fixing and maintaining one's attention on the object of contemplation.
Ben


Maybe you are right, I just need to be more patient and steadfast when it comes to this. I did this today,I just sat with my textbook, I just stared at it, my mind was not paying attention to what I was reading but I didn't care, I still stared at the book, reading line after line, I wouldn't move on until I grasped its meaning and then moved on to the next line, though it took me quite a long time, I did finish half of the chapter today, thats like 20 pages. I just needed to not give in, so I just kept with it, I guess thats what I needed, even though it seems hopeless at first, hopelessness doesn't last long, it will pass, and the mind starts to obey.
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Re: Meditation techniques to improve concentration

Postby Calahand » Thu Apr 01, 2010 4:32 am

acinteyyo wrote: Just keep at your meditation in a calm way, and the day will come it'll grow still in line with your wishes."



Awesome! I tried it today, that really works! thanks for the link, I appreciate it! :heart:
Last edited by Calahand on Thu Apr 01, 2010 4:37 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Meditation techniques to improve concentration

Postby Calahand » Thu Apr 01, 2010 4:37 am

nathan wrote:For getting better focused at reading, search for books that can hold your attention, topics that interest you or some kind of fiction that will hold your attention and start with that.


Nah, I can play a video game 15-20 hours straight without eating, I can read a fiction book or comic from cover to cover without getting tired. but when it is something that has to do with what I am studying, there is no concentration. So I know my mind can do it, I just need to make the mind listen to me, but most of the time, it does what it wants when it wants like a spoiled child :rolleye:
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Re: Meditation techniques to improve concentration

Postby BlackBird » Thu Apr 01, 2010 4:54 am

I would suggest letting go of all expectations. When you build expectations, you're planting the seeds of future turmoil.

Before we can apply the right medicine, we first have to know what the cause of our problems are, this can only come from a clear comprehension of things. Developing clear comprehension takes time, effort and patient endurance, but it will help you to gain insight into what you need to do.

There's no quick fix or magic bullet. So just keep up the meditation, over time things will become clear.

metta
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'The Blessed One is the Teacher, I am a disciple. He is the one who knows, not I." - MN. 70 Kitagiri Sutta
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Re: Meditation techniques to improve concentration

Postby Goedert » Thu Jul 22, 2010 2:26 pm

Calahand wrote:Hi guys ,
I am a student and I always have trouble reading books for some reason. I decided to be mindful when I am reading my textbooks and I found out that as soon as I open my book, and start reading, after 2 sentences or so, my mind reels with other thoughts, goes to some funny event in the past, or some scary event in the future, or fantasizes about something, or does something else. I keep bringing it back, but a minute later, boom, there it goes again, it just gets frustrating sometimes. After 15 mins, I say enough, and go do something else, but then I suffer because I waste time that could be utilized to study. I was wondering if you guys could give me any better meditation tips or advice for me to help me be more productive when I am studying, your help is much appreciated :namaste: thanks.

:heart:
-Cal.


Your can try samadhi, one-pointed concentration on the experience (feeling it) of the breath.

There is some kasina methods but the breath is the best.

Gradually your concentration and mindfullness will increase.

:anjali:
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