Concentrative Meditation

by marciag

Concentrative meditation is based on the mind focusing on something specific, such as the breath, a sound, the flame of a candle, a crystal, an image, an idea.

The Hinduism meditation techniques are usually concentrative based. In general, concentrative meditation is about he mind focusing on a specific object or 'thing', such as the breath, a sound, the flame of a candle, a crystal, an image, an idea. By using the mind this way, we help it become more aware overall and gain a clarity that it didn't have before.

Maybe the best known technique of concentrative meditation is whereby you simply sit still while the mind focuses on the breath. This is the technique that beginners to meditation are usually first taught because it is the easiest to do without getting discouraged.

The breath comes from within and it is easier to focus on it than on various sounds that could become annoying, or on a candle which can become distracting.

In addition focusing on the breath helps not only with the meditating act but also with simply calming the person, so the beginner meditator can see some benefits of meditation right away. It is much easier to have the excitement and motivation to do something when there are visible benefits that can be felt immediately.

What Is Concentrative Meditation?

Concentrative meditation is one of the two main types of meditation. A major part of learning to meditate is to first bring the mind to have and hold a singular focus, which increases concentration and mental stability, allowing us to take over the mind instead of being led by it. This type of meditation involves concentrating on a singular point in favor of the mind wandering from one thought to another.

The idea is to have a place where, each time the brain trails off, you can bring it back on track.

This technique usually involves focusing on the breath, a candle, a sound, an image, or a color. Anytime the departure point for meditation is a lone object or idea, we are using concentrative meditation.

For most people the easiest starting point is the breath, and this is the one most commonly taught to those new to meditation.

The breath is available to us all the time, in any moment, no matter how stressful or strange. Learning to use the breath in meditation is a valuable skill, vital to spiritual and material success.

Books That Help With This Type Of Meditation

Mind Science: Meditation Training for Practical People

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Learn To Meditate: Meditation For Beginners

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How to Meditate

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Are You Familiar With Concentrative Meditation?

Main Techniques

For first-timers, concentrative type of meditation simply calls one to focus on breathing and hold the mind there. You may count each in breath to ten, then start over again, and then switch to counting each out breath.

While this is not a deep meditation, it gives the brain something to do to keep it from wandering, while simultaneously relaxing the body and mind.

As we count, our awareness increases, and, after ten to twenty minutes, we can drop the counting and just watch the breath enter and leave in a constant, smooth rhythm.

Candle meditation

candle meditationFocusing on a candle is very much the same, although it is a little more difficult. Here, the mind is asked to keep its attention only on the flame and the candle burning. Each time it wanders, we must bring it back, telling it to become used to stillness.

This exercise can be considered a more advanced form, and it will increase our attention span, as well as cause us to become more aware and quiet in daily life.

Variations of the candle meditation include focusing on any object, picture or color which is particularly meaningful. Color meditations are normally used for balancing certain chakras, whereas pictures and objects can pertain to an idea or certain religion, or even a long-term goal.

Each of these yield the same results. Some report that focusing on a picture or object, which represented a goal, had the added effect of causing the goal to be achieved even faster.

Photo credits

Getting Started

The best part of this meditation type it that you are free to begin at anytime. You need very few tools, and it only takes twenty minutes, to start.

  1. Simply find a quiet spot and put in some meditative music, or keep it silent and turn down the lights.
  2. Sit upright in a comfortable position and begin to count each inhale. Count to ten, then begin again from one.
  3. Do this for several minutes, then count your exhales. As you go, see if you can maintain focus by dropping the counting and simply noticing the breath moving in and out.

After twenty minutes, congratulate yourself: you have just meditated. It might not be perfect, you might have 'clicked out' a couple of times, but the more you practice, the easier it will become over time.

So don't stop here. Keep with it every day and keep looking into other techniques. Concentrative meditation is a wonderful exercise for the mind and body, and should be enjoyed by everyone.

Benefits Of Concentrative Meditation

benefits of concentrative meditationAny meditation practice improves us as individuals by teaching coping and relaxation skills and increasing thoughts of happiness, contentment, peace and satisfaction.

Meditators learn faster, are better able to control their emotions, and experience fewer unpleasant ideas and feelings. As the mind improves, benefits increase in number and intensity. This is especially true with this type of meditation.

What each person gains from this meditation, in the short term, will depend on where he or she is starting from. Those who have a very difficult time being still and focusing may have difficulty, but, overtime, these problems will fade away and be replaced with greater productivity, less distraction, and less procrastination.

For those who are already easily able to center in, advanced concentrative meditation may result in higher trance states, or can be sustained longer for more intensive mental training, which will also boost the effectiveness of Transcendental meditation.

This meditation technique can also be used to move past specific feelings, such as anger: By allowing the emotion “anger” to come in and then breathing into it without directing it at anyone or justifying it, it can be possible to let go of past wounds.

Photo credits: purchased at istockphoto.com

Updated: 09/13/2012, marciag
 
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marciag on 09/12/2012

No, you don't have to count your breath. That's how I learned meditation, but eventually I found it distractive. I started from 1- 2 and so on and when I 'clicked out', I had no idea what number was the last. So now I simply focus on the breath, 'watching it' so to speak when I inhale and exhale, but no longer count.

Mira on 09/12/2012

Sometimes I put on some classical piano music and fall asleep focusing on that. I'm not always in the mood for classical piano, however. There are times when I just listen to my breath, as you say, but I don't count inhales and exhales -- should I?

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