Deep concentration is a powerful tool for achieving spontaneous meditation. It is a great way to relax and focus your mind. It can also serve as a method to access altered states of consciousness. In this article, I’ll explore the benefits of deep concentration. I will teach you how to develop a deep concentration practice, and how to use it to enhance perception and proprioception. We will also explore how to recognize fluctuations of the mind and maintain continuity of “not thinking.” In the end, you will learn pivotal tips for cultivating relaxation and becoming more aware of direct attention during deep concentration.
Deep concentration is the practice of focusing one's attention on a single object for an extended period of time. Our focus can be internal or external. Attention essentially works on the premise that if you can observe something, then that thing (under observation) is not you. This critical axiom helps us when we turn our minds inward to explore our thoughts. Thoughts come and go. They are happy, dark in nature, critical, and fantastical. Thoughts are many things, but are they us? If you were standing on the bank of a river, looking at the water rush by, are you simultaneously the water? If you are, then whose perspective are you taking when looking at the water? One could argue that you are one with the water if you could instantly jump to the perspective of the water and view the body standing there and recognize it as yourself. Since you cannot. We can logically explain that you and the river of water are not the same. It is the same with your thoughts. You can not be "you" observing your thoughts if the thoughts and you are one and the same. There is no “perspective” in oneness because all is one.
How to Use Deep Concentration to Enhance Perception and Proprioception
Deep concentration can help to enhance perception and proprioception. Perception is the process of interpreting sensory information and creating meaning from it. Proprioception is the process of becoming aware of one's body and its movements in space. By focusing on a single object or task for an extended period of time, you are able to become more aware of your body and its movements in space. This can help to cultivate a deeper sense of self-awareness and understanding. A walking meditation uses proprioception to lull the mind to sleep. We find ourselves in a moving meditation preceded by an intense focus on breath or footsteps. Meanwhile, perception uses concentration to enhance a single aspect of our being. The singularity opens our awareness to the vast amount of potential and possibility that surround a single thing at all points in time. This understanding yields us to the start of knowing non-duality.
What is Deep Concentration?
Deep concentration is a sense of connection to something, that connection provides a sense of oneness but is not oneness itself. Again if something is “one” then it can not “connect” to itself, it already is itself. It takes two or more to connect. When we bring our attention to the breath or to the space between thoughts, we start to develop a light sense of space and calm. When we focus on our thoughts alone, the mind generates more thoughts. Thus, when we deliberately focus on the space between thoughts, our minds generate more ‘space.’ This intense focus allows us to access a deeper level of consciousness, which can then be used to access additional ‘states of consciousness’ that exist in the spectrum. Similar to the spectrum of visible light that we see in a rainbow, there are many ’states’ of consciousness. These states have corresponding brainwaves that science has codified with delta, gamma, and theta states or “frequencies” as they are also known. Brain wave states relate to activity or non-activity occurring in the brain. Deep focus is not to be confused with sleep. In sleep, the mind can be very active. Our subconscious tries to make sense of worries and stress and sleep can suddenly turn to sleeplessness once our awareness turns to the worry or cause of stress. Awareness is dormant during sleep. It can be said that it is not you sleeping, but your awareness that sleeps.
Developing Single Point Awareness.
When using deep concentration, the mind is calmed and stilled, allowing us to access deeper states of awareness and understanding on demand. Yoga nidra is a perfect example of awareness on demand. When we utilize the body scan aspect of the yoga nidra practice we are exercising our metaphysical “awareness muscle.” This process is simple. Focus on a single aspect of body, mind, or space/sensation. For example, the warmth and moisture of air exiting your nose. Can you feel this on your top lip? Or the subtle rise and fall of the breath in your body. Is it always in the same place, for the same duration of time? Does it change as time expands outward? We can focus on an organ of the body. A tree, the horizon. A distant sound or even a distant planet! As long as the focus is intense, with a narrow radius and it is singular, not multiple. This is single-point awareness and it leads to deep concentration.
As you become fixed on a single point of reference, you melt into the vastness of space within that singularity. This is the space where, as Jesus commented, we can ‘…pass a camel through the eye of a needle.’ It takes time to open up to the vastness of possibility in this realm of consciousness. The minute we become aware of the act of doing nothing, the fruit of non-doing evades us. Our awareness becomes aware of itself and this activates the mind into a frenzy once more. Instead, we must maintain a loose focus or connection with the material world and begin to see with new eyes, through the lens of concentration and focus. When using deep concentration in this manner meditation arrives unannounced. Bliss is a spontaneous experience. And as long as we don’t attach emotion and narrative to the experience, we are able to maintain this state. However, the minute we label the state and begin an inner dialogue about what we are "feeling or not feeling," we sully the purity of the moment. Subsequently, we are immediately cast out of the "garden."
Alternative Techniques for success.
There are various ways to achieve a meditative state. Today we are exploring deep concentration. In order to keep the mind dull and not revved up with excitement and curiosity, we allow the mind freedom to explore. Typically we hear about sitting, chanting, or training the mind to be fixed and rigid. We have explored the understanding of single-point awareness, but now let’s talk about an easy way to get there. We can drop into ”deep concentration" by simply allowing our minds to run free. You may have experienced this often as a child or even as an adult. Daydreaming can come about in this manner. Instead of trying to stop the mind from thinking or “processing thoughts”, we simply allow the mind to wander. We don’t allow it to discern, inspect, or create additional thoughts about anything, in particular, we just let it be. We sit without expectation or assumption and let the mind do what it does. After a while, we will find that we lose all sense of time, space, and dreaming. At first, we may even fall asleep. Not to be discouraged we simply can begin again. We begin by doing nothing. And we sit with nothing and observe our thoughts about everything. The process of observation itself begins to slow the mind down. We also start to identify ourselves as something other than the mind as we marvel at the many aspects of thought that play out before us. This is the practice of concentration as we bring our attention to sitting and becoming aware of the space between thoughts. That is it. Nothing more or less.
Benefits of Deep Concentration
Deep concentration has many benefits, both physical and mental. Physically, it can help reduce stress and anxiety, as well as improve mental clarity and focus. It can also help to reduce fatigue and improve overall health. Mentally, it helps us increase creativity, improve critical thinking, and increase the clarity of thought. Perhaps most desirable, deep concentration has a strong correlation linking us to feelings of bliss long after the practice is complete. Setting an intention to “pay attention on purpose” is an aspect of mindfulness in which we use the peripheral edges of concentration. That is to say that our 100% of energy and focus is not laser-focused on a particular thing or subtle aspect of matter or ether. Rather in the “fuzzy edges” the fringe of attention, “in the background” concentration can work to heighten our awareness. And as noted before, a sudden fullness of the moment will arrive. In this space of “fullness,” we are absent awareness of senses, time perception, or intellect. One simply remains. This experience is known as “spontaneous meditation.” By focusing on a single point of concentration, we become more aware of our thoughts and feelings. Thus, we become more in tune with our inner selves and have the ability to better understand our motivations and emotions.
How to Recognize Fluctuations of Mind and Maintain Continuity
The practice of deep concentration can help to recognize fluctuations of the mind, known as citta. You never really know how much is going on in your mind until you stop to listen. It is like a very crowded room, with many objects in the space and activities happening. This can be a shocking revelation. We may judge ourselves to be completely insane. You are not insane. In moments like this, your mind is overactive, and your attention is everywhere. As we practice deep concentration, we become more aware of the process of letting go of concepts, memory, and the many emotions and stories attached to our memories. Concentration helps us better understand that our motivations and emotions are not us. They are aspects of our minds. We can then use this knowledge to recognize when our mind is beginning to drift away from our chosen object or task. We can use our will to gently bring the mind back. But back to where? Where does focus exist? And how long should we hold our minds to it? In his book “Letting Go”, author Dr. David Hawkins reminds us that surrender, aka ‘letting go’ is an actual mechanism of the mind. Hawkins notes that “It is the accumulated pressure of feelings, that causes thoughts.” Concentration allows us access to the wellspring of our feelings. When we observe our feelings as memory or make-believe, we are able to create more space to simply be. It is like pressing the delete key on a page full of words until the page is blank. The action of pressing the delete key is concentration, meditation is the blank page. The page eventually becomes blank as we repeatedly press the key (our practice.) Of course, that page (mind) will fill up with words again. However, just as we learn shortcuts to delete when we highlight all the words by dragging the mouse. Or moreover, when we eventually use two keystrokes to "highlight all." This is how concentration and meditation affect our minds. We become more efficient through practice. We cultivate the ability to take less time to clear the mind. We press select keys that automatically highlight the "entire page," and then we press delete. What once took a thousand or more keystrokes, can now take place with three keystrokes. We achieve a clear mind in a few minutes of sitting still instead of a 60-minute practice of concentration/meditation. In our waking life, we don’t possess the ability to "see the whole page" as we do in this metaphor. With our meditation/concentration practice, we are limited to sensing "how many words are on the page," and how long the document is. But I can assure you that as long as you keep pressing delete, words are being eliminated. The page will fill again. "Writing" happens when we create more words. Suppressing thoughts creates more words. False memories create more words. We create narratives instead of letting the words go and clearing the page. Deleting occurs when we simply release thoughts as they arise. It is akin to focusing on the space between thoughts instead of the thoughts themselves. This too is a concentration practice.
Tips to Relax and Be Aware During Deep Concentration
When practicing deep concentration, it is important to relax and become aware of tension and tightness in your body. Notice restrictions in movement and mobility. Find ways to physically and mentally remove these obstructions/blocks. Focus your attention on your breath. As a primary aspect of breath awareness feel the breath rise up your spine to just beneath the base of the neck. Then on an exhale, feel the breath fall back down the spine to the bottom of the curve in your back. In this sacred, sacral region of the spine, your cosmic energy of life resides. Feel your skin expand on the inhale and the vertebrae begin to "pop" as your muscles completely relax on the exhale. Release any expectations you have about the practice of breathing and concentrating. Focus on breathing and feel a sense of openness. Allow yourself to be aware of any sensations you may be feeling. Let go of any stories attached to feelings that arise. Place no lingering attention on any one thing except the breath. When your mind wanders gently bring it back to your breath and the autonomous process of breathing. Don’t become frustrated at the seemingly endless sea of thoughts, and likewise, don’t become excited and celebratory at the seeming cessation of thoughts. Approach all with the mundanity of a noble sage or the bliss of a newborn’s innocence and ignorance.
How to Direct Attention and Intention
As you become more efficient in being present and aware of each moment in life and not the projections of life in your head. You will automatically become proficient in being intentional in the subtle nuances of your life. In real-time moments will unfold with you at the center. Regret, remorse, and guilt fade away. What remains is the power of intention and the fruits of your choices.
In conclusion, the practice of concentration leads us to the ability to have deep concentration. Deep concentration is the catalyst needed for meditation. Deep concentration is the pathway, meditation is the destination. Concentration is the fertile soil from which the flower springs. Thus, concentration is a powerful tool for staying ready, for getting ready, and for being ready for the shining moment of meditation to arrive. Clean your house as if you were expecting guests! Meaning clear your mind and heart for the arrival of the king (meditation.) The collective process of concentration will slowly strip away, stress, fear, anxiety, and depression and improve all your faculties needed to live a rewarding life. I recommend a daily practice of concentration to cultivate a life without obstruction. A life of inner peace, and relaxation, as well as instant access to the Divinity that resides in you.
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