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What is Concentration?

by Swami Sivananda

"Desa-bandhas-chittasya dharana":-Concentration is fixing the mind on an external object or an internal point. Once a Sanskrit scholar approached Kabir and asked him, "O Kabir, what are you doing now?" Kabir replied, "O Pandit, I am detaching the mind from worldly objects and attaching it to the Lotus-Feet of the Lord." This is concentration. Right conduct, posture, Pranayama and abstraction from sensual objects will pave a long way in achieving rapid success in concentration. Concentration is the sixth step in the Yogic Ladder. There can be no concentration without something upon which the mind may rest. A definite purpose, interest, attention will bring success in concentration.

The senses draw you out and perturb your peace of mind. If your mind is restless, you cannot make any progress. When the rays of the mind are collected by practice, the mind becomes concentrated and you get Ananda from within. Silence the bubbling thoughts and calm the emotions.

You should have patience, adamantine will and untiring persistence. You must be very regular in your practices. Otherwise laziness and adverse forces will take you away from the Lakshya. A well-trained mind can be fixed at will upon any object either inside or outside to the exclusion of all other thoughts.

Everybody possesses some ability to concentrate on some lines. But for spiritual progress concentration should be developed to a very high degree. A man with an appreciable degree of concentration has more earning capacity and turns out more work in a shorter time. In concentration there should be no strain on the brain. You should not fight or wrestle with the mind.

A man whose mind is filled with passion and all sorts of fantastic desires can hardly concentrate on any object even for a second. Celibacy, Pranayama, reduction of wants and activities, renunciation of sensual objects, solitude, silence, discipline of the senses, annihilation of lust, greed, anger, non-mixing with undesirable persons, giving up of newspaper-reading and visiting cinemas, all increase the power of concentration.

Concentration is the only way to get rid of worldly miseries and tribulations. The practitioner will have very good health and a cheerful mental vision. He can get the penetrative insight. He can do any work with greater efficiency. Concentration purifies and calms the surging emotions, strengthens the current of thought and clarifies the ideas. Purify the mind through Yama and Niyama. Concentration without purity is of no use.

Japa of any Mantra and Pranayama will steady the mind, remove Vikshepa and increase the power of concentration. Concentration can be done only if you are free from all distractions. Concentrate on anything that appeals to you as good or anything which the mind likes best. The mind should be trained to concentrate on gross objects in the beginning, and later on you can successfully concentrate on subtle objects and abstract ideas. Regularity in the practice is of paramount importance.

Gross forms: Concentrate on a black dot on the wall, a candle-flame, a bright star, the moon, the picture of OM (AUM), Lord Siva, Rama, Krishna, Devi or your Ishta Devata in front of you with open eyes.

Subtle forms: Sit before the picture of your Ishta Devata and close your eyes. Keep a mental picture of your Ishta Devata at the space between the two eyebrows or in the heart. Concentrate on Muladhara, Anahata, Ajna or any other internal Chakra. Concentrate on the Divine qualities such as love, mercy, or any other abstract idea.

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