In directing all of your energy toward achieving a goal, one-pointed concentration is necessary.
The key to developing concentration is practice: practice concentrating on one thing at a time, and cultivating awareness: bringing your full awareness to whatever you do.
When we are aware of how we direct our attention to things throughout the day, we are more likely to notice when our concentration is broken, and bring it back. We have to practice this again and again before we can say we’ve got it.
To develop concentration, incorporate the following proven practices into your daily life:
Time outdoors, especially for fresh air and sunshine: Studies show that sunshine and fresh oxygen revitalize body and brain. Sunshine has also been shown to lighten mood. Sunshine and fresh air are the most natural form of pure energy. (See exercise below.)
Daily exercise: Like sunshine, exercise releases endorphins, which then stimulate a positive mood. Exercise also increases blood flow to the brain, thus supplying what the brain needs for focus, problem-solving, and getting things done.
Healthy diet: Eating foods that improve memory will in turn help your ability to concentrate. Foods containing healthy fats, such as almonds and avocados, give the brain what it needs to function at its best. Equally important is avoiding foods that make you hyper-active (processed foods, candies, too much caffeine or other stimulants) and foods that make your body sluggish and your mind dull.
Positive attitude: Consciously choosing to be happy and optimistic helps to attract success. It’s much easier to do any activity when one feels an upward flow of positive energy, which in turn will encourage creativity and draw inspiration.
Time management: Learn to focus in everyday life. Be mindful of the way you use your time. Prioritize your activities. Treat time and energy as precious resources to be used as efficiently as possible. You will find more about time management in the From Ideas to Action.
Meditation: Study after study after study has proven meditation enhances memory, focus, and concentration by activating the prefrontal lobe of the brain.
Meditation trains you for the mental marathon of setting a goal and working toward it day after day. Meditation also improves your ability to overcome challenges as they arise, and to do so calmly, with a positive frame of mind, and a feeling of inner peace and equilibrium—all of which are necessary for success.
“Meditation is a state of intense awareness achieved by stilling and concentrating the thoughts.”
—Jyotish Novak, How to Meditate
Here is an exercise to help you on your way to developing concentration: How to get your daily dose of fresh air and sunshine:
Experience for yourself the benefits of taking short breaks throughout the day to get outside, take deep breaths, and, if possible, rays of sunshine.
If there is sun, practice consciously (intentionally) absorbing the sun rays into your body. Feel them entering with all of their warmth—nurturing and energizing all cells of your body.
Even without sun, practice directing the energy into your body as you take in deep breaths. A double breath (short, then long inhalation through the nose, and short, then long exhalation through the mouth and nose), has been proven to supply more oxygen than a normal breath. Practice this breath several times, then tense your whole body, feeling the sun’s energy coming in, and release.
Paramhansa Yogananda said that the medulla oblongata, situated at the base of the brain, is where we draw in the cosmic energy of the universe. He said that if we only knew how to consciously draw that energy through the medulla, our bodies could be sustained by that energy alone.
Practice drawing the energy within at this point, if possible, stimulating—with your fingertips—the indentation at the base of the skull. This is a natural remedy for fatigue, and a way to revitalize your body, mind, and spirit. This is a part of the revolutionary system of yogic exercises developed by Paramhansa Yogananda, called the Energization Exercises.