Is there anyone on earth who actually enjoys doing the dishes? Anyone who looks forward to cleaning up the house? Can we find joy in putting out the garbage, vacuuming the living room, washing the windows, ironing clothes? If, like millions of others, we consider these tasks a necessary evil, a tedious but unavoidable circumstance of life, our answer will undoubtedly be a convinced ‘no’. But if we were willing to try the ancient, yet powerful technique of concentration our ‘no’ would soon be transformed into a surprising ‘yes’. For a clear, pure and focused mind does not know the words ‘tediousness’ and ‘boredom’.
The technique of concentrating the mind has been practised for centuries in religious and spiritual traditions all over the world. It is both a simple and profound method that can be practised by anyone at any time with stunning results. If you would spent only five minutes a day on a concentration exercise, you would notice remarkable benefits in your consciousness after a mere three weeks. And if you were to maintain the exercise on a regular basis, the effects would last you a lifetime.
The following exercise, which I have learnt from my meditation teacher Sri Chinmoy, serves as a simple, yet very effective tool to help you develop the power of concentration: Light a candle and sit on a chair facing the candle flame. Now for a few minutes try to focus all your attention only on the candle flame. Try to imagine that only you and the candle flame exist, everything else just falls away. After two or three minutes you intensify your concentration by shifting your focus to the very tip of the flame. After another minute or so you close your eyes and imagine the candle flame burning brightly on your own forehead, in between the eyebrows and a little above. Then you concentrate another minute on that imaginary flame on your forehead. You can try this exercise with any object of your choice, although it should always be small, like a flower, a dot drawn on the wall or your own thumb, to name a few examples. It should be an object which gives you some joy or inspiration.
A clear mind is by nature tranquil, calm and quiet and exudes a great force of positive energy. Hence, it is not easily disturbed by negative thought patterns. That is one of the reasons why a clear mind is a perfect stranger to boredom, since boredom often stems from a lack of positive energy. But there are other benefits as well. You will begin to notice an increase in your capacity to absorb information - a real help if you are studying or learning a certain theory or subject. You will get more satisfaction from your work and the various tasks you busy yourself with during the day, because your concentration allows you to be fully absorbed in the work itself without your mind distracting you with its usual worries and anxieties. Indeed, you will discover that work itself is joy, activity is joy, movement is joy. Aside from that, you will also be able to accomplish much more in the span of a single day, for you will complete each task much faster if you are concentrated and focused.
Abhinahba Tangerman is a meditation student of Sri Chinmoy currently living in The Hague, Holland. His other interests include acting and running.