How many times did our parents tell us: <<Pay attention>>? I bet it was many times. Nevertheless, the power of attention is so poor in a regular modern person. The reason is simple: WE LIVE TOTALLY DISTRACTED ALL THE TIME BECAUSE OUR MIND IS ALWAYS BUSY.
What happen to a computer when it has al lot of information? We all know that: It becomes slow. The older a person is the slower his/her brain is. Exceptions exist, but in general that is the rule.
When we were babies we had a great capacity that we kept for a long time, but then it started to fade. Kids and parents come to USA and after a year
Did you ever notice that babies watch at you without blinking? They pay attention without any fear. They have a great capacity of observance or attention.
The other day my friend told me about a small ornament his wife bought. Members of the family came to visit them. They welcome the visitors. A little nice came into the hose and, by their surprise; she went straight to the small ornament as if she knew about the new acquisition. How was that possible? Kids have a natural way to observe things in detail. I bet you were able to remember your dreams when you were a kid; but not any longer, right? Yes, I know. We lose that capacity of observance or the ability to pay attention.
Did you ever pass the bus station where you were supposed to get off? Did you ever forget the wedding anniversary or birthday of your wife? Did you forget where the car was parked or where did you leave the keys of your car? What about the list of things form the Supermarket? Yes, I can bring many other questions like these. The point is this: Why this happen? The reason is, as said above, we do not pay attention. Our brain is busy thinking something else. Or brain is in a state of distraction!
We should study this phenomenon if we really want to develop concentration because everything we need to do needs concentration. If you really want to learn meditation then you have a very strong need of learning how to develop concentration or attention.
WHAT IS CONCENTRATION?
The mistake is obvious for the one who knows what to do when meditating. It is not so obvious for beginners or people without the proper training.
Practicing meditation with the wrong concentration is like building a house with wrong tools. The outcome is simple: No progress, no development even after many years of practicing. So it is better to start properly and we need a person who knows the tricks of the mind.
Some people, for example, believe that meditation is paying attention to the thoughts coming to your mind; but actually meditation is totally the opposite. That attention going to those thoughts is the wrong way and the wrong tool; that is the regular concentration. When avoiding paying attention to those thoughts you need the inner concentration.
If a regular person does not have a good level of attention (regular concentration) even after many years of practicing (since that person was a kid), then what happen when they want to learn meditation and they never even heard about inner attention or inner concentration. Well, it is simple: They cannot do it. Actually it will take time to develop such a wonderful tool.
The only way to develop that marvelous inner concentration is practicing over and over. Ask someone who won a golden medal in the Olympics: <<How long do you practice per day? How many years did you practice to get that medal?>> what do you think the answer would be? Yes, he/she will say: <<Hours per day and many years of practicing>>. Yes, we know that. So, why people want to be real yogis in a few months or a few years? Meditation is a science and as a science it takes years to handle it properly; but the outcome and is worthy!
TIME AND THE MIND.
There are many people talking about living in the present; but they do not understand what that really means. Our mind is thinking of the past and about the future all the time and it is not able to be in the present.
Living the present does not mean forgetting about the past and the futures; actually it is to be aware beyond the mind. Here is a little problem: This is hard to explain and it is only understood through experience. <<THE TAO CAN NO BE SPOKEN AND THE TAO WHICH IS SPOKEN IS NOT THE SAME TAO>>
This marvelous phenomenon of living the present is experimented by some of those who were in a dangerous situation or for some people who were surprised at a moment. That is a magical moment when something happen that you did not expected and your mind got mute for a few seconds. That is when someone is driving and when avoiding a car crash did something without thinking.
In simple words: Living the moment is the instant where the mind stops its regular way to process data and a new way to experiment happens.
Living the present is not watching around and looking where you are at. Living the present is not paying attention to what you do.
Living the present is releasing a new state of consciousness beyond regular thoughts; beyond time and space. This happens often in kids and rarely in adults.
Let us pretend that you are giving a gift to an infant. The gift is wrapped in s sealed box. You ask the kid what he/she thinks it is. His/her answer is a simple: <<I do not know>> and you can see his/her face with that special happiness that kids have. You can see his/her eyes and smile. A beautiful emotion mixed with innocence and ingenuity arises. Nevertheless, if we do the same with an adult the story is totally different. If we ask him/her the same question you will see how that person tries to guess. Amazingly people do not like to say <<I do not know>> rather they prefer to guess; that is the mind!
The kid on one hand has not too much experience and his/her answer is simple. The adult is conditioned by experiences (The past) and when he tries to guess he is searching for data in his mind. What data? What he already knows or, in other words, what got into his/her mind in the past.
This addiction to think in function of time makes our mind to be busy all the time: Bringing memories and making plans for the future all the time. Yes, we need experiences, but not conditioning. Yes, we need to plan for the future; but not doing that all the time.
We need the lessons from the past, but let the past in the past. As someone said: <<FORGIVE; BUT DO NOT FORGET>>. If you need to plan for the future then relax and take time for it; but you do not need to be doing it all the time.
This mechanical process of thinking in function of time is another way of mental distraction. Meditation is the opposite way and it needs mental relaxation.
So, how can we learn to live the present? First, you need to relax and learn meditation to feed your soul and your inner capabilities, so that new consciousness can arise at the proper time.
How can we develop that inner concentration?
There are many concentration techniques, but we will get into basic ones.
CONCENTRATION TECHNIQUE #1:
You will need a candle for this technique.
1- You put a candle one or two feet from the place you will seat to practice.
2- Light the candle.
3- Seat down with your spinal straight.
4- Close your eyes.
5- Feel your body: Your weight, how the body moves while breathing (for a few seconds or a minute).
6- Chant mantra <<I>> for around 10 to 15 minutes, the pronunciation is the <<E>> in English.
7- Open your eyes.
8- Focus on the flame and try not to blink, as long as possible.
9- When needed close your eyes.
10- After a minute or two you repeat step seven to nine.
11- You can repeat steps seven to nine several times as you wish.
You might see a light when the eyes are closed, probably the flame of the candle in different colors. That is pretty normal, but it is good to see it. The more you practice the better you will see that light.Please, do not worry if you do not see anything. We all are different. You might see something sooner or later.
This exercise is really good to develop concentration, but it requires a lot of practice. The mantra <<I>> helps to develop the Ajna Chakra, which is the chakra to develop concentration.
5- Chant mantra <<I>> for 10 to 15 minutes. Pronunciation is the English <<E>>.
6- Open your eyes.
7- Focus on the dot at the center of the circles and try not to blink, as long as possible.
8- When needed close your eyes.
9- After a minute or two you repeat step six to eight.
10- You can repeat steps six to eight several times as you wish.
You might see the circles when your eyes are closed, maybe with different colors. It is ok and very normal. Please, do not worry if you do not see anything. You might see them sooner or later.
This is another good exercise to develop concentration. But again, you need to practice a lot.