3 Ways to Increase Concentration

…and to be alone with your mind

1. Know your mind

Why it is uncomfortable for me to meditate… but I still keep meditating?
Here’s why I do it anyway……

It’s uncomfortable to meditate, it takes time out of an already busy day and it makes you shamefully aware of nonsensical and distracting thoughts.

If I take a mental selfie at any moment—whether I’m getting dressed for the day, or trying to write an article, or just trying to fall asleep—I’ll find my mind shouting random and spontaneous thoughts at me:

“Your 20s are long over.”
‘Time is ticking.”
“You haven’t accomplished enough.”
“You’re going to die.”

These random thoughts are typically not useful or relevant when they occur. They are more distracting, like uninvited guests arriving unexpectedly at your house.

Meditation is uncomfortable for me because it lays this mental chatter bare in all of its banality and asks me to just sit without distraction and non-judgmentally observe the chatter.

How uncomfortable that can be!

Meditation the awareness tool

Mental awareness is the first step toward finding more self-determination to do what is really needed. Real self-determination isn’t possible when you’re being ceaselessly pushed and pulled by the dialogue in your head, manipulating emotions.

Don’t get into the dialogue.

99% of the time your job is to redirect awareness gently back into present moment.

This is mindfulness.

2. Finding Time to Meditate
The implication is that busy people get more out of meditating. It makes sense.Busy people are more open to impulse and distraction. It’s pretty hard to accept the idea that the busier I am, the more I need to meditate.

My natural response to feeling rushed in the morning is this: “Hmmm, I’m a little short on time today. Maybe I’ll just skip my 15-minute meditation, just for today!”

But skipping carries consequences:

Firstly, it’s more likely I’ll lose the habit altogether.

Secondly, by skipping meditating, my thoughts will drift just a bit easier, without my noticing. Yes, I will save 15 minutes, but I will also pay the price with more than 15 minutes in lost productivity from the added distractions and lack of focus.

Can I get more done by skipping meditation?

When I feel tempted to skip my meditation, I remind myself that skipping is like trying to get more done by sleeping less. But this doesn’t work, because under-rested me is less focused.

When I’m well-rested and have a reserve of attention, I can accomplish more in a few hours than I can as a sleep-deprived, distracted zombie who is churning away for ten hours.

3. Meditation Is Solitude
There is a close relationship between meditation and solitude.
Solitude almost seems a bit passé in our hyper-connected world. But solitude has become one of the ultimate luxury goods.

Cal Newport, author of Digital Minimalism is quick to distinguish loneliness from solitude.

“Loneliness is a negative emotion: a type of sadness from lack of human contact.

Solitude, on the other hand, is a human necessity that many of us deny ourselves. Solitude is being in a space by oneself, without input from other minds. Solitude just means we are alone with our thoughts, without external intrusions on those thoughts.”

Meditation cultivates an internal relationship. You and your mind.
You have nothing but yourself and your thoughts, and all you are doing is mindfully noticing those thoughts without judgment. (That’s one type of meditation).

And this brings us full circle, back to the original reason, I don’t “like” meditating, but still do it anyway. It forces me to be alone with my mind.

This is just one of a number of approaches taken in our 5 week More than Meditation training course (note: group courses such as More Than Meditation will run after COVID-19 pandemic is over)

The intention of the course is to help those interested in getting to know their mind better and benefits such as reducing distraction and increasing concentration that comes with this practice.

Simply put, concentration is an act to achieve a focused mind.

Meditation is an act to achieve an uncluttered mind.

In terms of the process, concentration can lead to meditation.

Key points

  • Know your mind
  • Finding time (hint: it is not lost)
  • The difference between loneliness and solitude