Concentration or Dharana is centering the mind on one single thought. During concentration the mind becomes calm, serene and steady. The various rays of the mind are collected and focussed on the object of meditation. The mind is centred on the Lakshya. There will be no tossing of the mind. One idea occupies the mind. The whole energy of the mind is concentrated on that one idea. The senses become still. They do not function. When there is deep concentration, there is no consciousness of the body and surroundings. He who has good concentration can visualise the picture of the Lord very clearly within the twinkling of an eye.
Manorajya (building castles in the air) is not concentration. It is wild jumping of the mind in the air. Do not mistake Manorajya for concentration or meditation. Check this habit of the mind through introspection and self-analysis.
If you concentrate your mind on a point for 12 seconds, it is Dharana (concentration). Twelve such Dharanas will be a Dhyana (meditation) 12x12=144 seconds. Twelve such Dhyanas will be Samadhi-25 minutes and 28 seconds. This is according to Kurma Purana. Concentration may also be directed on the mental image of God.
The practice of concentration and the practice of Pranayama are interdependent. If you practise Pranayama you will get concentration. Naturally Pranayama follows the practice of concentration. There are different practices according to different temperaments. For some the practice of Pranayama will be easy to start with; for others the practice of concentration will be easy to begin with.
When there is deep concentration you will experience great joy and spiritual intoxication. You will forget the body and the surroundings. All the Prana will be taken up to your head.
Pranayama or control of breath removes the veil of Rajas and Tamas that envelop Sattva. It purifies the nerves (Nadis). It makes the mind firm and steady and thereby renders it fit for concentration. The dross of the mind is cleansed by Pranayama just as the dross of gold is got rid of by melting.
When you study a book with profound interest, you do not hear if a man shouts and calls you by your name. You do not see a person when he stands in front of you. You do not smell the sweet fragrance of flowers that are placed on the table by your side. This is concentration or one-pointedness of mind. The mind is fixed firmly on one thing. You must have such a deep concentration when you think of God or the Atman. It is easy to concentrate the mind on a worldly object, because the mind takes interest in it naturally through force of habit. The grooves are already cut in the brain. You will have to train the mind gradually by daily practice of meditation on God, or on the Self within. The mind will not move now to external objects as it experiences immense joy from the practice of concentration.
A goldsmith converts 10 carat gold into pure gold by adding acids and burning it several times in the crucible. Even so, you will have to purify your sensuous mind through concentration, reflection on the word of your spiritual preceptor and Upanishadic sentences or meditation, Japa or silent repetition of the name of the Lord.
Beginners will get jerks in meditation. Jerks of head, feet, hands, arms, forearms and trunk may take place. Timid persons are unnecessarily alarmed on this score. It is nothing. Meditation brings on changes in the cells of brain, nerves, etc. Old cells are replaced by new vigorous cells. They are filled with Sattva. New grooves, new channels for Sattvic thought-currents, new avenues are formed in the brain and mind. The muscles are therefore agitated a bit. Be courageous and bold. Courage is an important virtue and qualification for aspirants. Cultivate this positive quality.
Sit in a proper posture. Shut your eyes. Imagine that there is nothing but God everywhere.
Algebra, the science of abstract numbers cannot be understood without a preliminary practice and knowledge of arithmetic, the science of concrete numbers. Kavyas in Sanskrit and higher Vedantic books cannot be understood without a preliminary knowledge of Laghu and Siddhanta Kaumudis and Tarka-Sangraha. Even so, meditation on Nirguna, Nirakara (abstract) Brahman is impossible without a preliminary practice of concentration on a concrete form in the beginning. Approach to the Invisible and the Unknown is to be made through the visible and the known.
The more is the mind fixed on God the more is the strength you will acquire. More concentration means more energy. Concentration opens the inner chambers of love or the realm of eternity. Concentration is the sole key for opening the chamber of knowledge.
Concentrate. Meditate. Develop the powers of deep thinking and concentrated thinking. Many obscure points will be rendered quite clear. You will get answers and solutions from within.
Suka Deva had to go to Raja Janaka to get confirmation of his knowledge and realisation. He was tested by Janaka in the Durbar. Raja Janaka arranged for music and dancing parties all around his palace to distract the attention of Suka Deva. There were various kinds of shows and entertainments. Suka Deva was asked to carry in his hand a cup of milk that was filled to the very brim, around his palace and to make three such rounds without allowing even a drop to fall to the ground. Suka Deva completely succeeded in his attempt as he was fully established in his Self. Nothing could distract his mind.
Be slow and steady in concentration. By practice of concentration you will become superhuman.
You will have to coax the mind in the beginning just as you coax the children. Mind is also like an ignorant child. Speak to the mind. "O Mind, why do you run after false, worthless, perishable objects? You will undergo countless sufferings. Look at Lord Krishna, the Beauty of beauties. You will get everlasting happiness. Why do you run to hear worldly love-songs? Hear the Bhajans of the Lord. Hear the soul-stirring Sankirtan. You will be elevated." The mind will gradually leave its old vicious habits and get itself fixed on the Lotus-Feet of the Lord. When it is freed from Rajas and Tamas, it will guide you. It will be your Guru.
As soon as you sit for meditation chant OM 3 to 6 times. This will drive away all worldly thoughts from the mind and remove Vikshepa (tossing of mind). Then take to mental repetition of Om.
Avoid all other sense-impressions and ideas. Prevent the complications that arise out of correlated actions in the substratum of the mind. Abstract the mind on one idea alone. Shut out all other processes of mentation. Now the whole mind will be filled with one idea only. Just as the recurrence or repetition of a thought or action leads to perfection of that thought or action, so also does recurrence of the same process or the same idea lead to the perfection of abstraction, concentration and meditation.
It will be very difficult to fix the mind on one thought in the beginning. Diminish the number of thoughts. Try to have the thought fixed on one subject. If you think of rose, you can have all sorts of thoughts connected with rose only. You can think of different kinds of roses that are grown in different parts of the world. You can think of the various preparations made out of roses and their uses. Check the aimless wandering state of the mind. Do not have thoughts at random when you think of a rose. Gradually you can fix the mind on one thought only. You will have to discipline the mind daily. Eternal vigilance is needed in thought-control.
Concentration increases by curtailing wants and desires, by observing Mouna (silence) for one or two hours, by remaining in seclusion in a room for one or two hours daily, by practising Pranayama, by prayer, by increasing the number of sittings in meditation daily, by Vichara, etc.
You must try to be always cheerful and peaceful. Then only you will have concentration of mind. The practice of Maitri (friendship) with equals, Karuna (compassion) towards inferiors or distressed persons, Mudita (complacency) towards superiors or virtuous persons and Upeksha (indifference) towards sinners or wicked persons will produce Chitta-Prasada (cheerfulness or serenity) and destroy hatred, jealousy and dislike (Ghrina).
Concentration will increase by lessening the number of thoughts. Certainly it is an uphill work to reduce the number of thoughts. In the beginning, it will tax you much. The task will be unpleasant. But later on you will rejoice as you will get immense strength of mind and internal peace by reduction of thoughts. Armed with patience and perseverance, vigilance, fiery determination and iron-will, you can crush the thoughts easily just as you crush a lemon or orange with ease. After crushing them, it will be easy for you to root them out. Mere crushing or suppression will not suffice. There may be again resurrection of thoughts. They should be totally eradicated just as loose tooth is rooted out.
Concentration can be developed by observing Mouna, by the practice of Pranayama, self-restraint, vigorous Sadhana and cultivating more mental non-attachment.
The practice to concentrate on the Sandhi (junction) between the Jagrat and Svapna and to prolong that Sandhi is a difficult one. At night, sit in a quiet room and watch carefully the mind. You will be able to get at the state of junction. Practise regularly for three months. You will have success.
Reduce your activities. You will have more concentration and inner life.
If you find it difficult to concentrate your mind within a room, come outside and sit in an open place or terrace, or by the side of a river, or in a quiet corner of a garden. You will have good concentration.
You press the button and light flashes out from the torch in twinkling of an eye. Even so, the Yogi concentrates and presses the button at the Ajna Chakra, the centre between the two eyebrows, and the divine light flashes out immediately.