One of the main types of meditation is the practice of Concentration Meditation: Concentration, Open Awareness, and Guided Awareness. The goal of concentration meditation is to develop one-minded attention directed to a single object: an image, its breath, a flame, a word or a phrase. By constantly returning your attention to this object, you can develop your ability to remain calm, focused and composed.
Part 1 of 3: practicing concentration meditation
Step 1. Find a quiet and silent place to meditate
Ideally, meditation should be done in an area where there are no pets, noise, or other people. Some people choose to reserve a corner of their room for the sole practice of meditation. Others prefer to sit outside if the weather permits.
- By sitting in the same place, you will increase your ability to concentrate. Your body will associate this area with meditation and nothing else.
- Many people find meditation in the morning a great way to start the day. Others prefer to meditate in the evening. A private office also allows you to meditate during your work day.
Step 2. Sit comfortably
Your body should not suffer from discomfort during meditation. Your goal is to be comfortable with your body while allowing your attention to be completely focused on the object you have chosen.
- Wear loose, comfortable clothing that doesn't squeeze or cut off your circulation. It is also recommended to avoid clothes that make many folds behind the knees when you are seated.
- Concentration meditation is generally practiced sitting or standing, but it is also possible to practice lying down.
Step 3. Set up a timer
Since you need to train your body and mind for meditation, start with short sessions, between five and ten minutes. You can repeat these short sessions during the day.
- Use a timer instead of a watch so you won't be distracted every time you check the time. If you are feeling drowsy, it may help you not get more sleep than the amount of time you set for yourself.
- Gradually increase the intervals. For example, after several weeks to ten minutes of meditation, increase this time to five minutes, then ten minutes.
- There are several meditation apps that can help you or you can use a regular kitchen timer. It doesn't matter what object you use as long as it allows you to avoid checking what time it is.
Step 4. Let your eyelids relax
You could choose to close your eyes or keep them half open without being fully focused. If you are visually focusing on an object, make sure your eyes are relaxed.
- Never force your eyes. It also includes the eyelids, the small muscles around the eyes, and the muscles that move the eyes.
- You could keep a slight smile, but you have to close your lips.
Step 5. Direct your attention to the object of your concentration
Many people choose to focus on their breathing. Don't force your attention or get frustrated if something distracts you. When you're distracted, just redirect your attention. This form of meditation is not meant to be stressful and forced.
- If you choose to focus on your breathing, turn your attention to it as you inhale and exhale. An inhalation followed by an exhalation counts as a breath. In your head, focus on the number 1. Take a new breath while inhaling and exhaling. This is the second breath. Continue until the tenth breath, then repeat. By maintaining your focus on these numbers, you will deepen your concentration meditation.
- Your choice of objects may vary on the day, the situation you find yourself in, or the experiences you have had while continuing your practice. Try out different objects to see the results.
- The practice of concentration meditation should be fun, not a goal. Let your emotions come out the way they want them to. Realize this before you let them go.
Step 6. Put aside thoughts that distract you
The purpose of concentration meditation is to train your mind to focus all the time. When thoughts or emotions arise, notice them and return your attention to the object you are focusing on.
- If you start to feel disappointed, frustrated, or irritated with distractions, that feeling in itself is a distraction. Notice it and return to the object of your concentration.
- There is a fine balance between squeezing the object of your focus too tightly and not squeezing it hard enough. When you concentrate too hard, you will feel a certain tension that prevents you from progressing spiritually. When you don't focus enough, you'll find yourself distracted.
- Some people observe a shift in their consciousness between themselves and the object of their focus. You might feel some emotion as if you were merging with the object in question. Have no fear, this is a widespread feeling and a sign of deeper understanding.
Part 2 of 3: Positioning your body
Step 1. Choose to stand for meditation
This position allows you to meditate without feeling any physical impediments, such as numbness in the legs, and it may be more beneficial for people who work seated all day.
- Shift your weight to the front of the foot and bend your knees slightly so that your back is straight.
- Slightly point your toes inward and spread your legs a little.
Step 2. Choose to sit down to meditate
The sitting position is the traditional meditation position whether it is on the floor or on a small cushion called a zafu. Modern practitioners can also sit in a chair if they need some physical support. The seated method brings more stability.
- If you are using a pillow, get in a quiet area. You might choose to put it on a mat or blanket to keep your knees from pressing against the floor.
- Lower your body to sit on the cushion. Position your buttocks on the top third of the cushion so that the buttocks are slightly raised and so that the knees point towards the floor. If necessary, put a pillow under your knees.
- Imagine the top of your head pulled up by an imaginary thread, making your spine straight. Feel a slight curvature in the lower back.
Step 3. Position your hands
When you are in a seated position, you can rest your hands, palms up, on your thighs. You could also choose a more traditional position by joining your hands.
- Leaving a slight space between your arms and torso, bring your hands together as if you were holding a ball. Place your left hand over the right hand, palms facing up and thumbs touching.
- If your arms are short, you can let them rest on a cushion placed on your thighs. This is even more useful if you are sitting in a chair.
Part 3 of 3: Choose an object
Step 1. Choose an object for your concentration meditation
The object you choose should be one that you can focus on easily, which brings you pleasant emotions without too much excitement or boredom. If you choose something that means something to you, try not to let these associations distract you. Your goal is to focus on the object itself.
- The choice of an object of the senses is an ancient technique of meditation. Some traditions encourage meditation with one of the four elements (earth, air, fire, water). Others focus on sacred points of the body called chakras.
- There are thousands of items for you to choose from. Among the most popular choices are the flame of a candle, a symbol that is sacred or has religious value to you, a word or short phrase with a sacred meaning.
- Remember that the purpose of focus meditation is to train your mind, not the object. A talented practitioner may just as well focus on a box of tissues.
Step 2. Light a candle
Concentrating one's attention on the flame of a candle is called tatrek meditation. Position yourself far enough away from the candle that you can focus on it easily.
- Make sure the candle is in a quiet, draft-free location. A flame that dances in a draft will create the worry of seeing it go out.
- Choose an unscented candle to focus even better. A scented candle might distract your attention.
Step 3. Read a short passage from a sacred text
In some traditions, this kind of meditation is called lectio divina or “divine reading”. Read slowly. A certain word or phrase might grab your attention. When this is the case, let your attention linger on it during your meditation practice.
- You could memorize that word or phrase, or you could keep the book open in front of you to reread it several times.
- The words in the text could become abstract and lose their meaning. This is not a problem. The words themselves are not important. They are only a path to meditative practice.
Step 4. Choose the breath
When doing concentration meditation, close your mouth and breathe through your nose, unless your nose is blocked. Breathing through the nose allows you to have better sensations.
- Concentration on the breath is called zazen meditation. This form of meditation encourages the practitioner to focus on their breathing. One of the forms of zazen meditation is to count each breath starting with 1 and going up to 10.
- Concentration on the physical sensations of the breath is called vipassana meditation. These sensations can be external, for example the sensation of the air on your upper lip or internal, such as the awareness of the air inflating your lungs. It could also include awareness of the breath passing through certain parts of the body called the chakras.