The Simple Guide On Concentration, Meditation And Breathwork For The Perplexed

In today’s fast-paced world, concentration (and attention) has become a precious commodity. Yet, it is the fuel for meditation and breathwork and, consequently spiritual elevation

For the average person experiencing constant sensory input, multitasking, and a barrage of distractions, maintaining focus can be challenging. However, by understanding and practicing concentration, you can enhance your productivity and overall well-being. The importance of proper concentration and meditation cannot be overemphasized. It is literally the portal to direct experiencing of the spiritual realms and true closeness with God.

First, it’s crucial to understand what concentration truly means. There are many definitions, but for the purposes of this article, concentration is the process of directing your mind to focus on one thing at a time. It involves removing distractions and dedicating your mental energy to a single point of focus, which could be an idea, a piece of Torah, a feeling, or anything really. This skill is essential for success in various aspects of life, especially Avodat Hashem.

The idea of “multitasking” then is a fallacy: nobody can do many tasks at once, at least not properly, or at least not things that require concentration. Sure, you can listen to a shiur while writing an article, but chances are the shiur won’t be retained for long, and the article won’t be great. It’s just the way we, and Creation are wired: good things take concentration, because of the iron clad rule that where attention goes energy flows.

Deciding what to concentrate on is vital because you become what you focus on.

This phenomenon can be observed in how long-married couples start to resemble each other, or how people often mirror the characteristics of their pets, cars, hobbies, or work projects. Your chosen focus shapes your thoughts, behaviors, and ultimately, your identity.

concentration on a letter

Experiencing Total Concentration

Everyone has experienced moments of total concentration. For instance, when watching a gripping movie, reading a great book or listening to moving music, we are often completely absorbed. We sit still, barely blink, and breathe slowly. These physiological signs indicate a high level of concentration. By observing such instances and being aware of them, we can gain insights into enhancing our own concentration abilities.

We live in a time however, of an abundance of useless information. We are not even talking about the Tumah that exists in the internet, which could be even more harmful to our soul. Merely looking at the news feed can be detrimental because our focus becomes fragmented and weak since the soul never forgets. Everything we experience becomes etched inside of us, acting as a barrier to the deeper levels of our psyche, and removing that can be difficult.

The human nervous system is not designed to handle these distractions continuously. As a result, many people develop attention deficit patterns, making deep concentration challenging. Recognizing and mitigating these distractions is a crucial step toward improving focus.

But enough with sad news, the good side is that we can all take active steps to start restoring our soul power and that starts with at least 5 minutes of meditation every day. Now, it’s important to note that “meditation” doesn’t necessarily mean to sit and try to empty one’s mind. You can “meditate” while walking, while doing the dishes, while studying, or doing anything that doesn’t require you to focus on your body and surroundings so much.

When you meditate you are actively trying to block outside (and inside) stimuli and decreasing your heart and brain activity. It is perforce a product of proper concentration.

So, let’s learn some strategies to help your concentration.

Strategies for Improved Concentration

1. Dedicated Focus

When working on a task, give it your full attention. Avoid distractions and create a quiet environment if possible. If you cannot eliminate noise, practice blocking it out to maintain focus. Using music could help, but is not idea since you are focusing on it, as opposed to the task itself or your inner world.

2. Energy and Concentration Connection

Concentration is closely linked to energy. Deep concentration requires directing your life force or conscious energy calmly and with focus. Scattered energy is also ineffective, just like a light bulb is weak compared to a laser. Therefore, learning to be calmly concentrated and maintaining calm while concentrated is essential. No need to force or strain any muscle, simply will it.

3. Energization Techniques

Practicing physical and mental energization techniques can enhance your ability to concentrate deeply. Examples of these include internal arts like Nei Gong or external arts like Kung Fu (or other martial arts). These techniques help you manage your energy levels and maintain focus for extended periods.

4. Taking Breaks

Regular breaks are crucial for sustaining concentration. Step outside, breathe deeply, or take a brisk walk to recharge your mind and body. This practice allows you to return to your tasks with renewed focus and creativity.

As with everything in life: practice makes perfect. Use moderation, and trust your gut: If something feels wrong, stop doing it.

The Role of Meditation and its benefits

Meditation is one of the most powerful techniques for enhancing concentration.

The reverse is also true: concentration enhances meditation.

Simple meditation practices, even for just five minutes daily, can significantly improve our focus. One effective method is to concentrate on your breath. By observing your breath without controlling it, you train your mind to focus on one thing at a time. This practice calms your mind, reduces stress, and enhances your concentration.

Chronic Pain and Emotional Regulation: Mindfulness-based interventions, such as Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), have proven effective in managing chronic pain and improving emotional regulation. These interventions help reduce pain-related anxiety and enhance cognitive flexibility, making them beneficial for individuals with chronic conditions and substance use disorders. This highlights the versatility of mindfulness in addressing various health challenges and improving quality of life​ (PLOS)​.

Occupational Well-being and Burnout Prevention

Mindfulness in High-Stress Professions: Mindfulness practices are increasingly being implemented in high-stress occupations to prevent burnout and improve job satisfaction. Studies have shown that mindfulness can reduce secondary traumatic stress and enhance well-being among professionals such as healthcare workers and law enforcement officers. These interventions support mental resilience and job performance, emphasizing the importance of mindfulness training in demanding work environments​ (The Psych Update)​.

Non-Ordinary Experiences and Meditation

Exploration of Consciousness: The field of contemplative science is beginning to explore non-ordinary experiences associated with meditation, such as profound alterations in self-identity and experiences of interconnectedness. These phenomena, often described in traditional meditation texts, include out-of-body experiences, spiritual transmissions, and heightened states of awareness. Understanding these experiences can deepen our knowledge of the potential transformative effects of meditation​ (PLOS)​.

DALL·E 2024 04 07 13.19.59 An ancient Jewish elder with a long flowing white beard and wearing traditional garments stands solemnly at the head of a Shabbat table. The table

How to Meditate

This is a simple guide on how to start meditation if you haven’t started yet. There are more advanced meditation techniques that will be written below. Please try to make some time for this and enjoy the experience without tensing and without forcing.

Beginner Level Meditation

1. Sit Upright

Make yourself comfortable and sit upright with a straight spine. Place your feet flat on the floor, and your arms, palms turned upward, at the joint between your thighs and torso.

2. Relax the Body

Do a tense-and-relax exercise to help relax your body:

  • Inhale sharply through the nose with a short and a long inhalation (double breath).
  • Tense the whole body until it vibrates with energy.
  • Hold your breath and the tension for five seconds.
  • Exhale forcibly through the mouth with a short and a long exhalation (double breath).
  • As you do, release the tension.
  • Repeat several times.

3. Breathe Evenly

Practice the Measured Breathing Exercise:

  • Inhale slowly, counting to 10
  • Hold the breath for a count of 5
  • Exhale slowly to the count of 6
  • Hold your lungs without air for a count of 5
  • Repeat three to six times.

Adjust the count according to your lung capacity, but keep the duration of inhalation, holding, and exhalation equal. Finish by inhaling deeply and exhaling completely.

Intermediary level Meditation:

  • Forget the breath and concentrate deeply at the point between your eyebrows
  • Keep your mind focused and your energy internalized.
  • Absorb yourself in the peace generated by your practice.
  • Continue for at least five minutes.

Ways to Deepen Your Meditation

As I mentioned, meditation is a very flexible practice. You can use visualization to imagine a beam of light coming from Heaven, healing you or energizing a specific organ. See what works for you and pursue it, because the effects compound so it’s not so good to spread oneself thin over many techniques.

1. Relax the Body

Deep concentration is possible only in a state of complete relaxation. Practice the tense-and-relax exercise and the Measured Breathing Exercise to release bodily tension.

2. Pray

You can pray to Hashem to help you achieve proper concentration and meditation. Of course, prayer is part of the well-known practice of Hitbodedut (self-seclusion with God).

3. Sit Perfectly Still (if you are sitting)

To keep yourself from fidgeting, think of your body as a rock — solid and unmoving. Physical and mental restlessness will subside the longer you sit still.

4. Do Not Control Your Breath

After the preliminary breathing exercises, let your breath flow naturally. Enjoy the pauses between breaths as they become longer. Go back to the physical world slowly, moving your fingers of feet and hands, then moving upward. Take your time.

DALL·E 2024 04 08 17.13.49 Imagine a serene scene where an ancient Jewish man in white robes meditates within a traditional Japanese house. The man sits peacefully embodying a

Advanced Meditation on a Mishnah by Rabbi Chaim Vital

I found this meditation to be quite real:

Find a quiet place where you can meditate alone, wrapped in a prayer shawl. Sit down, close your eyes, and transcend the physical world, imagining your soul leaving your body and ascending to heaven. After reaching this elevated state, choose any Mishna and recite it multiple times in a row, as quickly and clearly as possible, without skipping a word. Focus on connecting your soul with the soul of the sage who taught this Mishna.

Visualize your mouth as merely a vessel for the words of the Mishna, with the voice carrying the sparks of your inner soul. This practice will transform your soul into a chariot for the sage’s soul, allowing it to manifest within you.

As you continue, you may feel a sense of deep exhaustion. If you are spiritually ready, the sage’s soul might come to reside in your mouth. While reciting the Mishna, you may hear the sage speaking through you, greeting you with “Shalom” and answering the questions in your mind. You will hear his words as if they are spoken directly to you, fulfilling the verse, “The spirit of G-d spoke to me, and His word was on my lips” (Shmuel II 23:2).

Conclusion

Embracing these ancient practices with modern insights can help us navigate the complexities of contemporary life with greater clarity and inner peace. Meditation and regular breaks play a vital role in maintaining and improving focus. Start today, and you’ll be amazed at the positive impact on your daily life and long-term goals.

The practice of deep meditation and concentration can be powerful and completely transform one’s mental and spiritual well-being. By following the steps outlined, such as focusing on a single Mishna and visualizing your mouth as a conduit for spiritual energy, you can create a profound connection with the wisdom of ancient sages. This process not only enhances your ability to concentrate but also opens the door to transformative spiritual experiences, aligning your soul with higher realms of consciousness (i.e. the spiritual worlds).

Improving concentration is a journey that requires practice and dedication. But through understanding the importance of focus, identifying distractions, and implementing practical strategies, you can enhance your concentration skills, as anyone with a brain can.

Keep it kosher though: the last thing we want is to have contact with an impure creature from the Sitra Achra, although this can be less common. Pray for Hashem to protect you and have no problems.

May we all be successful in our meditations.

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Chaim Apsan

Chaim is a teacher and Kabbalah enthusiast. He loves helping Jews connect with true Torah teaching and enhancing their spiritual growth. With a focus on meditation, he guides individuals on transformative journeys of prayer, contemplation, and connection with Hashem. He lives in Jerusalem with his wife and kids, and is committed to sharing the wisdom and power of Kabbalah in a genuine way.

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