I wanted to explore two words that are offend used in relation to meditation; Focus and Concentration. There are some that would argue that both focus and concentration are one and the same, both in definition and merit. Is this true? In this article I will expand on these two very pinnacle points that are discussed in todays modern yoga-going meditational society.
Through the act of meditation we seem to gain certain that our mind will sharpen itself to the point of what some call, single-mindedness. If or when we ever achieve this state we may find that single-mindedness is just that. For a more philosophic analytic suggestion I will use the famous words spoken by Thomas Jefferson, for who said, “A house divided against itself cannon stand.”. In this situation Mr. Jefferson could have been talking about political, social, or even relationship endeavors. But here we may find a deeper truth. For in a true meditative state one might experience the completeness of the single mind, resting in the awareness that may have brought you to that very cushion. In this state you are no longer arguing with yourself like a crazy person. If you aren’t familiar with this statement, imaging for just a moment you spoke aloud, not everything you “thought”, but rather “everything that went through you head”. If you were to participate in this exercise you may find yourself equal to the verbal ramblings equivalent to someone that is given the title of insane. Interestingly enough, this is something that is of comfort to most of us most of the time. For we strive for things to “drown out” our minds voice. We look for loud music, talking in general, or just some way for our minds to stop the torment that we seem to put up with for millennia. In this we sit on our meditation spot, hoping that this practice will bring us salvation. When or if we reach of single-mindedness, we might experience great peace due to the now non-violence that is accuring in our mind. So, is our mind focused or concentrated? Below I have enabled a detailed diagram of some interesting findings into the two types of single-mindedness we sometimes find ourselves in, during meditative states:
Focus envolves a state in which the ego is suspended and the view “blocks out” the surrounding environment.
By admission to this state the ego must surrender to the space for which it derives from and thus creating a steady stream of thoughts.
In a concentration type state the view may continue in his search of a sharpened mind and the ego is still operating as the No. 1 in command.
During this process of searching the concentration is a sort of “forced” single-mindedness – due to a type of grasping.
As you see, in concentration we might observe that we are “trying” to “become” focused. This paradoxically intriguing situation we find ourselves in seems to present itself every time we do one thing. That is, that every time we reach a state of true single-mindedness or true “focus”, we grasp. Once we grasp on to the idea that we can actually achieve this state, our ego clings on to it and claims it as its own. Usually, from then on out you find your ego “forcing” itself into a state of concentration say, “I must concentrate, I know it is possible!”. When honestly, true focus is only achieved with the relinquishing of the ego’s grasp on the every situation – or at least the one you are focusing on.
Wether you are a dedicated meditator or you just want to concentrate long enough to complete a term-paper, letting yourself(ego) go into the silence is one of the best things you can start with. A good starting place would we to focus on your breath, and start noticing the silence between each in and out breath. The greater your awareness of silence is, the greater your mind is free to take focus.
By: Thomas McGregor, Interconnect-Interactive