Meditation is inner exploration. You expand your awareness to reach deeper layers of consciousness. An expedition to Mount Everest starts with preparation, meticulous planning and stopovers at different ascending points. Physical occupation is not enough; you have to involve yourself by mentally, emotionally and psychologically.
No one can teach you meditation. Whether its yoga school or yoga guru, they can only teach you the techniques of meditation. It is inward journey where you train your mind with focus, attention and finally concentration. Like a mountaineer, you have to cross many hurdles to facilitate your ascending. A single slip can transport you to the initial point of expedition.
First learn to focus your mind, which is faster than light. It is main obstacle. Mind creates troubles and there is probability of losing your way with distracted psyche. Patience and perseverance helps in strengthening your knowledge. Experience is the best teacher. When you gain skill of focusing your mind on single object/subject, the attention automatically develops.
The one-pointed focus for an elongated period is concentration. Mind and all senses remains observed in single conceptual thought. The outer world remains no obstruction to the path of meditation. Controlling of mind for meditation is concentration. When you watch a movie, your attention & concentration develops effortlessly. For a period of three hours, you forget the world. From beginning to end, mind remains occupied on silver screen.
When you learn to prepare your mind on single object, it develops your power of concentration. The object or subject of attention should be pure for the experience of meditation. That’s why beginners are asked to concentrate on pointed dot (trataka), “aum” or yogic breathing. In the philosophy of ashtanga yoga, “dharana” is concentration, and “dhyana” is meditation. In hatha yoga, the practitioners concentrate on six chakras of kundalini yoga.
When the topic of subject is appealing, you’re fluently develops focus and concentration. Improving your concentration is a step-by-step process which is always followed in sequence. Involve your mind, body and spirit in single horizon to prepare for “dharana”. Mastery over any comfortable pose and yogic breathing are keys to concentration. It can be developed by:
Closing your eyes and start focusing of your mind on chosen object is not meditation. It is relaxation in yogic way. You may attain peaceful mind and inner joy, which you sometimes misinterpret as meditation. Meditation is experience of different dimension. Focus, attention and concentration are ladders to reach the elevated horizon of awareness. It comes into finer tune with regular practice and intense faith towards guru.
The scientists discovered mysteries of nature by power of focus and concentration. Similarly, surgeon performed surgery by keen observation. Had it been so, then scientists and doctors would have been expert in meditation. The thumb-rule to reach meditation is to explore focus and attention with absolute inner purity. If the area of focus is large, the attention and concentration wouldn’t develop as needed for meditation.
When your breath becomes deeper and slower, the concentration of mind moves to subtler level. The higher yogic breathing is practiced with gestures (mudra) and blocking of energy (bandha). You cross the boundaries of physical limitations which are obstacles to meditation. The awareness levels expand as you delve deeper in advance pranayam techniques by extending the dimension of prana. You reach the deeper level of ashtanga yoga.
In traditional hatha yoga, to balance your mind & body, you focus the mind on your breath. Pranayama for an extended period purify inner body by removing all negative thoughts and energizing the prana (vital energy). By balanced and yogic breathing, you control the flow of prana in all subtle and gross parts of the body. It improves your attention and concentration, which are mandatory for entering the whirlpool in meditation.
Attention and focus progressively in union enhances the concentration power. When you concentrate like an un-flickering flame of candle, it becomes meditation. Ascending on the ladder of focus and attention, concentration is the last ladder to meditation. Yoga courses refine mind to purer form and makes it prepared to reach to the state of meditation. All diverging thoughts unite or merge to become one intensified thought of concentration.
The meditation course is not possible without crossing the focus and concentration of mind. The power of mind and right utilization of mental ability makes your practice smoother to prepare you for meditation. Concentration is outer yoga, while meditation is inner yoga. Meditation is the last stage before Samadhi (absorption of mind). It is a higher stage of yoga where mind, body, awareness and consciousness become the one.