theMALC

Concentration

By JJ Simon
Published on May 30th, 2010

When a person begins to train toward any goal, they have a vision of what their life will be like when the goal is finally accomplished. Many times, there are certain factors needed for success that will help any person reach their goal.Some of the factors that aid success are having: an achievable goal, a supportive community, strong coaching, discipline and concentration.

Lets look at the last factor mentioned, concentration.Concentration is a skill necessary for learning anything. Without concentration you can't read or comprehend, you can't internalize instruction in any exercise, and you cannot use the attribute of disciple to your advantage. Concentration allows you to focus on an exercise or principle long enough for it to become a habit.

We've all seen an advertisement asking, "Are you having trouble concentrating?" Of course, sponsors have the perfect solution for you. For just $19.95 or much, much, more depending on what is prescribed, you can get the instant cure to what ails you. The assumption is that some people are born with an extra-ordinary ability to concentrate, and others were left out when it came to that special kind of DNA. By ingesting some sort of magical concoction you can level the playing field. This is not true. Concentration is a skill not a genetic trait. Knowing this does not solve your problem. You still need to concentrate, there's no magic formula; what do you do?

What is concentration? Concentration is attention focused on a single object and held there for a period of time. The substance of concentration is twofold. We concentrate on internal objects which are thoughts/emotions or we pay attention to external objects, which are experienced through your five senses. Let's consider an egg. If you placed an egg on a table and looked at it. How long could you hold attention on the egg, before either an internal or external stimulus distracted you from the egg? Not very long, right? There are simple exercises available to you that will build the skill of concentration. Ancient traditions found in 2000 year old texts divide the experience of concentration into 9 stages or levels. I will focus on the first four. They are:

  • Placement
  • Placement with Continuity
  • Repeated Placement
  • Close Placement

Any object can be used to concentrate our attention allowing us to focus on one point, but the simpler the object the better. Let's return to the egg. Relax; place your visual attention on the egg. This is placement. When a thought, emotion, or any other stimulus arises causing you to lose your concentration. Relax, acknowledge the distraction and return your attention to the egg. This is Placement with Continuity. Eventually your concentration will not be easily swept away by stimulus, but every once and a while a very powerful thought or emotion will distract you once again. This is part of the normal process. Something has changed in you. Through training, your mind comes back to the egg naturally. You have made a habit of concentration. This is the result of Repeated Placement. Finally the habit of concentration develops into Close Placement and you are no longer distracted by stimulus. Instead you will always be close to the egg or any object of concentration as the focus of your attention. Through training when stimulus arises, you will not be distracted, but you won't be blank to the experience of the stimulus or the egg. You will be calmer and clearer with a mind that focuses easily on whatever needs your attention.The egg can be replaced with any object you want to use. Some people use breathing because it's accessible any where. Others use candles, flowers or photos of things that inspire them. Remember the simpler the better. The object is less important than the effort of concentrating. What is important is relaxing, placing, placing again, and again, until concentration becomes natural. No magic formula; this ability is part of the DNA you were born with. The next 5 stages of training concentration can be summed up in this idea. Eventually your mind will not wander, ever. You learn to place your attention on an object and your concentration does not move until you decide to move it. Imagine that, what could you accomplish if you could focus yourself so pointedly?

You can accomplish any goal. It only takes your discipline and concentration.


Filed under Techniques and Tutorials

Author Bio :: JJ Simon

JJ Simon has studied the Martial Arts for over a decade. In October of 2010, he tested for, and earned, his black belt at TheMALC's annual Residential . Mr. Simon has studied meditation since 1990 and has completed a number of Meditation retreats from 3 to 30 days under such noted teachers as Lama Surya Das, and in the Shambhala training tradition created by Chogyam
Trungpa.

JJ has acted as a meditation coach for friends and martial arts associates since 1992. Mr. Simon is a tattoo artist of some renown with some 20 years of experience in the field. He owns Explosive Tattoo South in Salisbury, MD. JJ is also a painter, knife maker, and the Artistic Director for The Martial Arts Learning Community, Inc.

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