Control your mind by Concentration Exercises –
These are few exercises, which can help you to improve the ability of achieving your targets very soon. To practice these exercises, follow the instructions –
1. Find a place where you can be alone and undisturbed. If you wish, you may sit crossed legged on the floor, but most people would find it more comfortable to sit on a chair. Sit with your spine erect.
2. Take a few calm deep breaths and then relax your body, by directing your attention to it, and relaxing each muscle, from head to toe.
3. Practice each of the exercises below for about 10 minutes, and after a few weeks of training, lengthen the time to 15 minutes.
4. Start with the first exercise. Practice it every day, until you are able to do it without any distractions or forgetfulness, and without thinking about anything else, for at least three continuous minutes.
5. Every time you get distracted, start again, until the 10 or 15 minutes pass away.
You have to be honest with yourself, and proceed to the next one, only after you are convinced that you have practiced it correctly and with full concentration.
6. There is no time table, since this could be frustrating. If, for example, I tell you to practice a certain exercise for a specific number of days, two things might happen. You might get disappointed, if you cannot get the desired concentration within the allotted time period. You might also proceed to the next exercise, without practicing correctly the previous one. Mastering the exercises successfully can take days, weeks, months and sometimes even more.
7. Put your whole attention into the exercises, and do not think about anything else. Be careful not to fall asleep, daydream or think about other matters. The moment you find yourself thinking about something else, stop the exercise and start again. After you become proficient, lengthen the time, and if possible, include another session in the afternoon.
8. Do not attempt too much at the beginning, and don’t try to perform them all at once. Go slowly, without overdoing them or tensing your brain.
9. If you find it too difficult, or thoughts distract you and make you think about other matters, don’t despair. Everyone encounters difficulties along the way. If you persevere and never give up, in spite of difficulties and disturbances, success will crown your efforts. Remember, even those with powerful concentration had to exercise their minds.
10. It does not matter if your concentration is weak now. It can be developed and strengthened like any other ability, through training. In time, you will find out that you can concentrate anywhere, anytime, no matter where you are. You will be able to focus your mind, think and function under the most trying circumstances, while remaining calm, relaxed and collected. The reward is worth the effort a thousand fold.
Now to the exercises. For the full benefit, it is advisable that you practice each exercise for one additional week, after you are convinced that you are practicing it correctly and with full attention.
Exercise 1: Count the words
Take a book, any book, and count the words in any one paragraph. Then, count them again, to be sure that you have counted them correctly.
After a few times, do so with two paragraphs.
When this becomes easy, count the words of a whole page. Do the counting mentally and only with your eyes, without pointing your finger at each word.
Exercise 2 : Count backwards
Count backwards in your mind, from one hundred to one.
Exercise 3 : Count backwards with variations
This is similar to the previous one, but in this case, you can vary the count by skipping numbers. For instance, you can skip by threes (100, 97, 94 and so on) or by fives (100, 95, 90 and so on). The additional mental load of calculating the numbers as you skip can further increase the intensity of the concentration required to keep the numbers right.
Exercise 4 : Concentrate on an object
Take a fruit, an apple, orange, banana or any other fruit, and hold it in your hands.
Examine the fruit from all its sides, while keeping your whole attention focused on it. Do not let yourself be carried away by irrelevant thoughts that might arise, or thoughts about the grocery where you bought the fruit, how and where it was grown, its nutritive value, etc. Stay calm, ignoring, and showing no interest in these thoughts.
Just look at the fruit, focus your attention on it without thinking about anything else, and examine its shape, smell, taste and the sensation it gives you when you touch it.
Exercise 5 : Concentrate on visualize object
This is the same as exercise number 4, only that this time you visualize the fruit, instead of looking at it.
Start, by looking at the fruit and examining it for about 2 minutes, just as you did in exercise number 5. Then close your eyes, and try to see, smell, taste and touch the fruit in your imagination. Try to see a clear and well defined image. If the image becomes blurred, open your eyes, look at the fruit for a short while, and then close your eyes and continue the exercise.
You may imagine holding the fruit in your hands, as in the previous exercise, or imagine it standing on a table.
Exercise 6 : Observe an object
Get any physical object—a fruit, a small furniture, a toy—and examine it closely and carefully. Take note of its characteristics and features while keeping your mind from straying away and starting to entertain other thoughts—keep your complete attention on the thing you currently have in your hands. Take note of its color, shape, texture, even the smell.
Exercise 7 : Focus on a single word
Find a nice quiet spot where you can stay for at least five minutes without anyone interrupting you. As in the previous concentration exercises, this also requires you to laser-point your thoughts on a single target—this time, a single word of your choice. It doesn’t matter what word as long as it’s inspiring. “Love,” “courage” “happiness,” or “success” are good examples. Repeat the word mentally in your mind for five minutes. When you feel your concentration is improving, you can increase the duration to 10 minutes.
Exercise 8 : Observe without thinking
This exercise is similar to (6), but this time, you will observe any chosen object (fruit, furniture, kitchen utensil) without any mental verbalization. That is, make the act of observing completely blank as much as possible. Basically, for five or so minutes, you should look at your chosen object from all sides and angles without thinking anything about it.
Exercise 9 : Draw and Concentrate on object
Draw on a piece of paper a small triangle, square or a circle, about three inches in size, and paint it with any colour you wish.
Put the paper with the drawing in front of you, and concentrate your whole attention on the shape you have drawn. For now, only the drawing exists for you, with no unrelated thoughts or distractions.
Keep your attention on the drawing, and avoid thinking about anything else. Be careful not to strain your eyes.
Exercise 10 : Imagine object
The same as number 9, only this time visualize the figure with the eyes closed. As before, if you forget how the figure looks like, open your eyes for a few seconds and watch the figure and then close your eyes and continue with the exercise.
Exercise 11: Visualize completely
The same as above in number 9 but with eyes open.
Exercise: 12: Stay without thoughts
Try to suppress your thoughts for at least 5 minutes. This appears pretty tough, but with regular practice, you can do it. Start off with one minute and gradually increase the length of time. Try your best to stay blank for 5 minutes without a single thought in your mind. This will take time, but gradually you will improve and thus your concentration will also excel. Don’t try to push yourself if you find it difficult initially. Just try to give your best. Once you are finished with it, stop and try again the next day. This is one of the most difficult exercise for concentration.
Exercise 13 : Concentrate on finger
Sit straight on a chair with your head up, chin out and shoulders back. Raise your right arm up to the level of your shoulder, pointing to your right. Look around, moving your head only and fix your gaze on your fingers. While doing so, keep your arms perfectly still for one minute. Repeat this exercise with your left arm. Once you are able to keep your arms perfectly steady, increase the length of time to reach up to 5 minutes with each arm. The easiest position is to turn the palm of your hand downwards when it is outstretched. If you are able to keep your eyes fixed on the tips of your fingers, you will be able to tell if your arm is perfectly still.
Exercise 14 : Glass full of water
Fill a small glass full of water. Putting your arms directly in front of you, grasp it by your fingers. Now fix your eyes on the glass, focusing all your attention on it. While doing so, try to keep your arm so steady that no movement becomes noticeable. Do this for one minute and then gradually increase it to five. This exercise should be done with one arm and then with the other.
Exercise: 15 : Sitting on chair
Start off by sitting on a comfortable chair and see for how long you can keep still. This might sound easy but it is quite tough to do initially. All you need to do is to center your attention on sitting still. Ensure that you are not making any involuntary muscular movements. With little practice you will be able to sit still without a movement of the muscles for 15 minutes. You can start off by sitting in a relaxed position for 5 minutes. Once you are able to do it perfectly, gradually increase the time to 10 minutes and then to 15 minutes. Do not strain yourself to keep still. This exercise is great for relaxing you completely.
Exercise: 16 : Fist Concentration
Move your chair by the table and place your hands upon it, clenching your fists and keeping the back of the hand upon the table such that the thumb is doubled over the fingers. Now look carefully at the fist for a while and then gradually extend your thumb. While doing so, all your attention should be focused on this act as if it is a matter of great importance. After this, extend your first finger followed by your second and so on until you open all of them. Then reverse the process, first closing the last one opened and then the rest to bring your fist in the original position with the thumb closed over the finger. This exercise should be done with one hand and then with the other such that five repetitions are performed with each hand. Once you master it, you can increase it to ten times in a few days.
Exercise: 17 : Concentrate on heartbeat
This exercise enables you to concentrate from within. Start off by lying down and thoroughly relaxing your muscles. Now concentrate on your heartbeat without paying attention to anything else. Think about your heart and how it is pumping blood to every part of the body. While doing so, try to visualize the blood leaving your heart and flowing in one stream right down to the toes. Think of another picture with blood flowing down the arms to the tips of the fingers. After doing this exercise, you can actually feel the blood passing through your system.
Exercise18 : Count breathing
Sit on a chair in an upright position, keeping your back high. Now pressing one finger against your right nostril, take a long deep breath. Draw the breath in gently as you count to ten and expel the breath through the right nostril as you count to ten. Repeat this exercise with the other nostril. This exercise should be repeated at least 20 times at each sitting.
Exercise 19 : Mirror Contration
Standing in front of the mirror, make two marks on a level with your eyes and imagine them as two human eyes looking into yours. You might blink a little initially, but keep standing erect without moving your head. All your thoughts should be concentrated on keeping your head perfectly still and avoid other thoughts from coming into your mind. Now keeping your head, eyes and body still, think that you look like a reliable person, someone whom anyone would have confidence in. Ensure that there the room in which you are standing is well ventilated. Practice deep breathing in front of the mirror. You will feel that as it permeates every cell; your timidity is replaced by a sense of peace and power, making you more focused. This exercise should be practiced for 3 minutes.
Exercise 20 : Focus on sound
This exercise is concerned with focusing on sounds. In our day to day lives we keep hearing several sounds. Try to focus on a specific sound such as a voice. Then deliberately switch over to another sound such as that of a bird. Again switch over to another sound, say the sound of traffic. Continue to switch between sounds after focusing on one sound for one minute. This exercise can also be done visually by focusing on the person or thing that is creating the sound and refocusing on another. Ensure that while focusing on one particular sound, you do not think of or hear anything else.
Exercise 21: Concentration Increases the Sense of Smell
When you take a walk, or drive in the country, or pass a flower garden, concentrate on the odor of flowers and plants. See how many different kinds you can detect. Then choose one particular kind and try to sense only this. You will find that this strongly intensifies the sense of smell. This differentiation requires, however, a peculiarly attentive attitude. When sense of smell is being developed, you should not only shut out from the mind every thought but that of odor, but you should also shut out cognizance of every odor save that upon which your mind, for the time, is concentrated. You can find plenty of opportunity for exercises for developing the sense of smell. When you are out in the air, be on the alert for the different odors. You will find the air laden with all kinds, but let your concentration upon the one selected be such that a scent of its fragrance in after years will vividly recall the circumstances of this exercise.
The object of these exercises is to develop concentrated attention, and you will find that you can, through their practice, control your mind and direct your thoughts just the same as you can your arm.
Exercise 22: Concentrating on Sleep
What is known as the water method is, although very simple, very effective in inducing sleep. Put a full glass of clear water on a table in your sleeping room. Sit in a chair beside the table and gaze into the glass of water and think how calm it is. Then picture yourself getting into just as calm a state. In a short time you will find the nerves becoming quiet and you will be able to go to sleep. Sometimes it is good to picture yourself becoming drowsy to induce sleep, and, again, the most persistent insomnia has been overcome by one thinking of himself as some inanimate object–for instance, a hollow log in the depths of the cool, quiet forest.
Those who are troubled with insomnia will find these sleep exercises that quiet the nerves very effective. Just keep the idea in your mind that there is no difficulty in going to sleep; banish all fear of insomnia. Practice these exercises and you will sleep.
Exercise 23: Clock Concentration
Sit in a chair and place a clock with a second hand on the table. Follow the second hand with your eyes as it goes around. Keep this up for five minutes, thinking of nothing else but the second hand, This is a very good exercise when you only have a few minutes to spare, if you are able to keep every other thought in the stream of consciousness subordinate to it. As there is little that is particularly interesting about the second hand, it is hard to do this, but in the extra effort of will power required to make it successful lies its value.
Always try to keep as still as possible during these exercises.
Good Luck for your practice.