The fast pace of everything around us these days, the pressure to confirm, an overload of information, is making all of us overwhelmed and stressed. Not just these, other reasons like a predisposition to anxiety and medical issues also contribute to stress.
Some people feel the blues for a few hours and then forget all about them. Some others may have prolonged feelings of being stress that turn chronic in no time. Whatever be the case, the only that works in alleviating these feelings is learning how to calm your mind and avoid letting it scatter in whichever direction that it pulls you. The best way to achieve this is by practicing concentration meditation.
What is concentration meditation?
Also known as attention meditation and focus meditation, this is a technique that’s directed towards inculcating the ability to practice mindfulness i.e. staying in the present without thinking about the past and the future and being aware of one’s current thoughts and feelings.
Concentration meditation involves anchoring your mind to something that helps you build on your mindfulness. This could be your breath, a body scan, or an object.
How does concentration meditation help?
Concentration meditation has tremendous benefits not only for our mind but for our body too. These include:
- Concentration meditation helps in improving your memory and concentration, which in turn helps in enhancing your productivity.
- Focus meditation helps in improving your ability to live in the present and avoid getting stressed about what happened in the past and what’s going to happen in the future.
- Concentration meditation helps in reducing negative thoughts about situations and people.
- Since in focus meditation, you are focusing on the present, it helps in helping you become more emotionally stable.
- Concentration meditation plays a big role in helping you become happier and stress-free.
A decrease in scattered thoughts and activity in the brain through concentration meditation leads to several physical health benefits also like:
- More energy levels.
- Reduction in feelings of knottiness and tension in the head, neck, and shoulders.
- Lower blood pressure.
- Improved sleep patterns.
- Reduced risk of dementia, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, etc.
- Reduction in digestive problems like constipation, bloat, etc.
- Reduction in headaches.
- Strengthened immune system.
Why are we not able to meditate and how can we overcome the obstacles?
There are instances when we are not able to meditate or focus while practicing concentration meditation due to certain obstacles to meditation.
These obstacles to meditation are the hindrances that don’t let us concentrate or be in the present.
Here are some of the most common of these obstacles and the ways to overcoming difficulties:
Obstacle: Not knowing how to practice mindfulness during meditation.
How to overcome: Not being able to meditate now doesn’t mean that you can never learn how to meditate. When facing obstacle of not having that little nudge to start practicing meditation, think of guided meditation. Today, there are countless resources available online along with meditation practitioners that can teach you meditation to help focus.
Obstacle: I feel I am too pressed for time to meditate.
How to overcome: You are facing obstacle of time when you are not giving meditation enough time as you would do to any other activity that’s important to you. This may be due to your busy schedule or just plain sluggishness. Overcome obstacle of time by starting with shorter meditation sessions. Incorporating concentration meditation into your regular daily routine can help eliminate this obstacle. For example, do your meditation just before you get busy for the day to avoid stress and hurry.
Obstacle: I feel distracted.
How to overcome: This happens when you meditate in a place that’s too noisy, crowded, and even unclean. Choose a spot where there are no walk-ins for the duration of time that you are meditating. These could be your friends, family members, or even pets! Also, the spot where you practice concentration meditation should be clean and not too crowded with furniture. Choose a spot that’s well-ventilated and sunny to feel better during meditation.
Obstacle: I expected meditation to start working immediately and it didn’t.
How to overcome: This is one of the major obstacles why people start and stop meditating. Expecting meditation to work from the first session and start showing in the form of reduced stress levels and the ability to concentrate is not the right way to start. Nor is expecting meditation to start filling you with feelings of euphoria and happiness right from the word go. It takes time to achieve the state of mindfulness where you train your mind to stay focused on the present and it doesn’t happen overnight. Start slow and build gradually to gain the benefits of this wonderful art.
Obstacle: My mind wanders all over when I meditate.
How to overcome: It is completely natural for the mind to start wandering the time it is told to quieten. When your mind starts overthinking or overanalysing during meditation, the key is to be gentle with yourself and softly tell your mind to come back to where it started. Being harsh with yourself would only lead to feelings of confusion, anger, and negativity towards yourself, defeating the very purpose of meditation. Overcoming difficulties of focus can be done by having a point of focus. This point is the one where you go back to the moment your mind starts overthinking. This could be your breath, an object, a mantra, or even a relaxing piece of music. This is especially beneficial in meditation for kids given their restless nature and brief attention spans.
Obstacle: I feel sleepy while practicing concentration meditation.
How to overcome: This mostly happens when you are too exhausted to meditate or do it just before doing to bed. This is the time when most of us are tired after the day’s activities and are unable to concentrate. However, you should worry too much. After all sleep meditation also has the same goals of reducing your stress and putting your body in a state of easy comfort. You can also avoid falling asleep by scheduling your meditation first thing in the day or during the mid-day when you are more alert.