Sunday, December 21, 2008

Recipe for Concentration


You don't have to shave your head, take a vow to celibacy, or change your religion to practice meditation. Entrance yourself with sound, something quiet and subtle that will pull at your attention and fill your senses with serenity (I like the sound of running water). Find a position that you can be in indefinitely without much discomfort or disruption of circulation to your limbs. Pay attention to your breathing and establish a comfortable rhythm. Empty your mind of the numerous thoughts flying about, and let your sensory experience engulf your mind. Tel your muscles to relax. Focus on your breathing; let it become the only thing you think of. This can paradoxically seem both impossible, and the easiest thing you could possibly do. Remain focused, lest you fall asleep. determination


It's easy to stray off the path. You can prepare yourself by having directions that will take you from wherever you back to where you need to be. For example, if you need to write a research paper, make a list of things you need to do (locate sources, read sources, extract excerpts, create outline, formulate thesis, etc.). Whenever you find yourself doing something that is not productive (read email, IRC, random WWW browsing, picking dirt off fingernails, etc.), go over your list of things to do and put yourself back on track. Done often enough, this process could become automatic.


Concentration requires being in a certain state of consciousness continuously for the desired amount of time. Music has a powerful effect on consciousness. Listen to any type of music that helps you be in whatever state you need to be in. If fast thinking is required, fast music is appropiate. If repetitive processes are required, repetitive music is optimal. If possible, make a CD or tape of the required music and put it on an endless loop...


Tell yourself you will never give up, and you will take yourself more seriously. I once struggled trying to learn a piano piece for 3 hours straight. It was frustrating at first, but it got easier once my brain realized I meant serious business and was not going to leave the piano for a few hours. The temptation of scrapping it all and doing something else is severe, especially if the task at hand is challenging. Having infinite patience is difficult, yet simple if one keeps one's priorities straight. One of my favorite original quotes: "The more patience you have, the less patience you'll need."

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