Whether you’re struggling to maintain concentration for long periods of time or you simply can’t concentrate at all, guided meditation for concentration can help train your mind to have a better capacity to maintain concentration.
Have you ever read a paragraph of text and realized that, although you read every word, you did not take-in a single idea? If someone asked you what the paragraph was about you’d just stare blankly… This simply means that you lost your concentration. And it’s more common than you think. Meditation can help you increase your capacity to concentrate effortlessly whenever you need. No more re-reading sentences or getting easily distracted.
Most people think of meditation as a way of relaxing and relieving stress – but actually meditation does a lot more than that. Many people use guided meditation to help with relaxation but it also helps the mind train its concentration.
Meditation works a lot more like physical exercise. When you exercise a movement, say a pushup, you start off finding it quite tough and usually you can only do a few reps before your form becomes terrible, or you simply sprawl out on the floor.
There are actually two reasons why this is so hard – one is that yes, your muscles aren’t quite strong enough, but the other reason is that actually, you’re tensing up and using all kinds of other muscles that simply don’t help with a pushup. They actually make your pushup harder – and they make you exert a lot more effort than you really need to.
Over time, as you train, your pushing muscles get stronger, and you find that your pushups become much more efficient – so you’re using less energy on doing many more pushups than you were before.
That is exactly how meditation works. At first it seems like an impossible task – you keep trying to pay attention to your breathing, but your mind jumps all over the place. But over time, you become better and better at catching yourself losing concentration and bringing your focus back to your breath. Not only do you get better at concentrating longer and correcting yourself easily when you do lose it, but you also become more efficient – so that concentration actually becomes more effortless over time.
Guided meditation for concentration makes this easy to learn and follow.
Recently, a very robust study published in the Journal of Cognitive Enhancement showed not only that “meditation is associated with enduring improvements in sustained attention”, but that these benefits of meditation “may persist over the long-term when promoted by a regimen of continued practice”.
Participants in the study were tested right after an intensive meditation retreat, and were found to have various cognitive improvements, especially in their ability to concentrate. But what’s more interesting is that these improvements persisted when the participants who kept up meditation practice were tested some 7 years later.
So just as you would expect to lose your push up skills without exercise, you would also lose your ability to concentrate if you stop meditating. The good news, however, is that if you do keep up with your practice your ability to concentrate will increase – where it would normally decrease due to aging.
The best guided meditation for concentration happens to be the simplest and most comprehensive method there is: mindfulness of the breath.
The instructions for mindful breathing are very simple – but very difficult to master.
1. Sit comfortably upright.
It doesn’t matter whether you prefer to sit cross-legged or just on a chair – the key is to remain upright and not slump or rest on the back of the chair. Here is a short guide on how to sit comfortably upright for meditation.
2. Relax yourself.
Start by taking a few slow, deep breaths. Just scan your body with your awareness and notice if you’re tensing anywhere – maybe you’re frowning, or holding your shoulders up, just notice and release. A good tip is to bring your awareness to your tongue, and consciously relax it – this helps to calm mental chatter.
3. Place your awareness on your breath.
Once you feel suitably relaxed, just shift your awareness to your breathing. If you’re unsure when it’s time to shift focus, a guided meditation practice for concentration can help with this.
The most important thing is to stop any attempt to ‘control’ your breath. All you need to do is use a gentle focus – and just notice your breathing. It doesn’t matter if it feels restricted or shallow. Just give it some attention. When you give it some gentle attention, you’ll notice that your breathing naturally deepens and becomes smooth and slow – but don’t try to force it.
Start at your nostrils, notice how the air moves in and out. Listen for the sound your breathing makes. Feel the sensation of your nostrils. You can slowly shift your awareness from your nostrils to your sinuses, then from your sinuses to your throat… Bit by bit move your awareness all the way through your lungs down to your diaphragm. Feel the sensations of the shifting air currents, the expanding and collapsing of your lungs, the movement of your diaphragm, your ribs and your abdomen as you breathe.
4. When you become distracted, bring your awareness back to the breath.
This is the primary ‘workout’ of this meditation. This is where you build your ‘meditation muscle’.
If your mind is very active, don’t get disheartened – this is normal and expected. When you notice that you’ve become distracted, just redirect your awareness back to your breath. It’s this catching yourself, and refocusing that is of prime importance in your meditation training.
As you can see, meditation practice is quite simple but challenging.
To make it a little easier, use our Declutter The Mind app. The guided meditation for concentration lessons will stop you from getting lost and help to bring your attention back to your breath. It won’t be long before you can concentrate in a calm, relaxed and effortless way for long periods of time.