Concentration Exercises for Greater Happiness

by Dennis Bradford

in spiritual well-being

What are some concentration exercises to test for and develop better focus?

There’s nothing good about being scatterbrained and unable to focus.  It’s not an accident that, when you are unhappy, you are unable to focus.

What’s amazing is that it works in reverse: strengthening your ability to focus can increase happiness!

Are there some simple, effective ways to improve focus?

Yes, but only if your brain is healthy.  Even if your brain is whole and free from disease, chronic malnutrition or alcohol or drug use can be debilitating in terms of concentration.  Let’s find out.

Here’s the first of two concentration exercises to test your ability to focus.  Find some kind of timer such as a kitchen timer or one in a microwave oven.  Select a small, stationary object to look at such as the sharp corner of a piece of furniture.  Take a deep breath, set the timer for 30 seconds, and simply hold that visual object in your awareness while thinking of nothing else.  Exhale when the timer goes off.

If you are able to hold your attention on that visual object and on nothing else for half a minute while holding your breath, there’s nothing sub-normal about your ability to focus.

(Don’t just read and think about doing these exercises, do them!)

Here’s the second of the concentration exercises to test your ability to focus.  Set the timer for 3 minutes and, while breathing normally, try to hold that visual object in your awareness while thinking of nothing else.

If you are unable to do that, there’s nothing super-normal about your ability to focus, either.

Evaluate yourself honestly.  If any stray thoughts or judgments occurred to you during those 3 minutes, you failed the test.

Assuming that your ability to focus is normal and you want to improve it, are there concentration exercises that you can use to strengthen it?:

Yes.  I list half a dozen alternatives at my post at:  http://dennis-bradford.com/960/addiction-to-thinking-how-to-overcome-it/

Which of those concentration exercises will work best for you?

There’s no way to tell in advance.  You’ll have to test them for yourself.

What’s my best suggestion?  Aliveness awareness.  It’s very simple.  For instructions, see my post at:  http://dennis-bradford.com/621/life-energy/

Here’s my hunch about why it works so well.  Notice that in the two concentration exercises described above for testing yourself you were focusing on a visual object that was static and stationary.

By way of contrast, in Aliveness Awareness you are not focusing on a visual object at all and the object, the energy, is easier to focus on because it is not static. In fact, once you teach yourself how to relax and focus on it in, say, your hands and feet and legs, simply practice every day until you can hold your awareness on that aliveness for an hour or two.

If you do, you’ll notice two facts that may make this the best of the concentration exercises:

(1)  The longer you stay still and hold focus, the more the intensity of the aliveness will increase. This does not happen with a static object.

(2)  The more its intensity increases, the easier it becomes to focus on it. In fact, for example, your hands may feel as though there’s an electric charge going through them almost strong enough to cause them to rise into the air!

Since that energy isn’t just the aliveness of your living body but (part of) the aliveness of the world, by focusing on it you’ll be decreasing the separation between you and everything else.

Since the separation between you and whatever you want is the root cause of dissatisfaction, by practicing Aliveness Awareness you’ll automatically be decreasing that separation and, therefore, your dissatisfaction!

To decrease dissatisfaction is automatically to increase happiness.

As always, I encourage you not to believe anything from me just because it sounds plausible.  Though it would be very tedious to write and read that way, please take my declarative sentences to be interrogative sentences.  Always question them for yourself. If something seems both initially plausible and valuable, test it.

I hope you’ll share your results with others as well as with me.

I hope to hear from you that you have tested these concentration exercises and found yourself happier and living better!

 

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