Yogic Concentration

The power of concentration is well-known. It is a power that we utilize daily to accomplish the various tasks set before us, or to achieve some goal that we have set for ourselves. In yoga, also, the power of concentration is required. The focus and intention behind the concentration is the primary difference between ordinary concentration and that utilized by practitioners of yoga. In his lectures on Raja Yoga, Swami Vivekananda devotes considerable efforts to explain concentration, describing the processes outlined by Patanjali, and how it can be intensified and focused, and the kind of results one can obtain. A systematic process of purification, quieting of the mind, control of the posture and the breath, and eventually, directing the concentration upon specific subjects or objects, is outlined. As the concentration intensifies, it becomes more and more directed and extraneous thoughts, feelings, and perceptions drop off. The result of such concentration is to see the manifestation of certain Siddhis, or powers, that arise when concentration is focused in particular areas, or attainment of the state of Samadhi. Sri Aurobindo provides additional insights to the process of concentration.

Sri Aurobindo writes: “Ordinarily the consciousness is spread out everywhere, dispersed, running in this or that direction, after this subject and that object in multitude. When anything has to be done of a sustained nature the first thing one does is to draw back all this dispersed consciousness and concentrate. It is then, if one looks closely, bound to be concentrated in one place and on one occupation, subject or object — as when you are composing a poem or a botanist is studying a flower. The place is usually somewhere in the brain if it is the thought, in the heart if it is the feeling in which one is concentrated. The yogic concentration is simply an extension and intensification of the same thing. It may be on an object as when one does Tratak on a shining point — then one has to concentrate so that one sees only that point and has no other thought than that. It may be on an idea or word or a name, the idea of the Divine, the word OM, the name Krishna, or a combination of idea and word or idea and name. But further in yoga one also concentrates in a particular place. There is the famous rule of concentrating between the eyebrows — the centre of the inner mind, of occult vision, of the will is there. What you do is to think firmly from there on whatever you make the object of your concentration or else try to see the image of it from there. If you succeed in this then after a time you feel that your whole consciousness is centred there in that place — of course for the time being. After doing it for some time and often it becomes easy and normal….”

“It may be asked what becomes of the rest of the consciousness when there is this local concentration? Well, it either falls silent as in any concentration or, if it does not, then thoughts or other things may move about, as if outside, but the concentrated part does not attend to them or notice. That is when the concentration is reasonably successful.”

“One has not to fatigue oneself at first by long concentration if one is not accustomed, for then in a jaded mind it loses its power and value. One can relax and meditate instead of concentrating. It is only as the concentration becomes normal that one can go on for a longer and longer time.”

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, Growing Within: The Psychology of Inner Development, Chapter V Growth of Consciousness, Means and Methods, pp. 90-91


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