If you often find your mind racing or you struggle to focus, you’re not alone. In fact, according to researchers at Harvard University, our minds are lost in thought 47% of the time. Over the last few years, there has been an increase in research about the benefits of meditation for focus and concentration. Could meditation to concentrate better be the answer to our low attention span and distracted minds?
When you practice meditation, you’re training the mind to be fully present and aware of one thing at a time. Over time, your ability to focus and concentrate increases, both in your meditation practice and your day-to-day life.
Can Meditation Increase Concentration?
When many of us think of meditation, we might imagine Zen masters or yogis with their laser-sharp focus and ability to meditate for hours on end. But to get to that point, they must regularly practice meditation for many years. Like any habit or activity, you need to start small and practice regularly to see the benefits.
Research from Columbia University Medical Center has revealed that meditation can change the structure and function of your brain, leading to:
- Reduced stress, anxiety, and depression
- Increased focus, learning ability, and concentration
- Improved memory and attention span
- A strengthened immune system
- Increased physical and psychological resilience
- Improved sleep
How Do I Train My Brain to Focus?
More than ever, we live hectic lives, and you might find that your attention span has become shorter as you’ve gotten older.
Thankfully, research has shown that meditation is an effective way to train your brain, increasing your ability to focus and keep your mind on the task at hand. There are many small ways to introduce meditation into our lives, and the three meditation types below may help you to ‘train your brain’ and help you concentrate.
With meditation, it’s a marathon, not a sprint. So, start with a short meditation practice and slowly work your way up to longer sessions.
One of the best-known and most easily accessible meditation techniques is mindfulness. Mindfulness trains your mind to remain present and focus entirely on one thing, whether that’s a physical sensation, your breathing, or how many colored objects are in the room.
When you can be mindful at will, controlling your mind and forcing yourself to be present, then you’ll find concentration may come more naturally to you.
Zen meditation is a rigorous mental workout and promotes meditation for focus and concentration. Giuseppe Pagnoni, an Italian neuroscientist, conducted a study where he compared the brain function of 12 long-term practitioners of Zen meditation with 12 people of a similar age and education level. Compared to the non-meditators, the meditators had more stability in their posteromedial cortex (PMC), a region in the brain linked to thoughts and mind-wandering.
While other forms of meditation encourage you to close your eyes, Zen meditation involves keeping your eyes slightly open. Unlike other forms of meditation that suggest focusing on the breath, Zen meditation requires you to maintain a clear mind and dismiss any thoughts that pop up.
Counting Your Breath Cycles
One method of meditation that is especially useful for those who find it difficult to concentrate is to count your breath cycles. This type of meditation is incredibly accessible as you can practice it anywhere. Combining mindfulness with deep breathing, which is suggested to improve your ability to combat stress, makes counting your breath cycles a particularly great meditation to enhance focus.
To practice this type of meditation, remain fully aware while counting your breaths like this: inhale, exhale, one. Inhale, exhale, two. Inhale, exhale, three, and so on.
Because counting breath cycles requires full awareness, this is a powerful practice in concentration. If you find that your mind has wandered, simply start again. With time, patience, and practice, you’ll soon find yourself able to count to higher numbers.
Guided Meditation to Improve Focus
At first, you may find meditation challenging. If so, guided meditation to improve focus might be a good option for you. Guided meditation is the same principle as solo meditation, but an instructor will lead the session and narrate it for you. These sessions might take place at home, online, or even in a group setting.
The great thing about meditation to concentrate is that it can be practiced anywhere, anytime. After a while, your practice will add up, and you’ll find yourself with a much stronger ability to concentrate and focus, even when you’re not meditating.
Inability to concentrate may be a sign of an underlying health condition. So if you’re struggling to focus, consider speaking with a health practitioner. Here at Opt Health, we have specialized men’s health doctors who can help you to improve your focus and feel like you again.
Opt Health can help with so much more than support for low attention and concentration. We also offer preventative medicine for a range of men’s health conditions like low testosterone and erectile dysfunction. Contact us to set up a free consultation.