By Paramahansa Yogananda
First understand clearly what concentration is: “Concentration is taking your mind off many things and putting it on one thing at a time.”
Decide carefully what you want to concentrate on, for in many subtle and not-so-subtle ways, you become that which you focus on — that is, you take on the attributes of your chosen subject of concentration. Have you ever noticed how couples who have been married for many years start to look like each other, or how people often come to resemble their pets, their cars, their hobbies, or their work projects?
Generally speaking, everyone has had experiences in total concentration. Go to a good adventure film at a movie theater. In the middle of it, stop watching the movie (this might be hard, but do it anyway) and look around at the people in the theater. What are they doing? They are absolutely still, eyes barely blinking, and their breath is slower. It would take a really major distraction to break their attention stream. These physiological signs may give you a hint about ways to increase your own concentration abilities.
Some of the enemies of concentration skills are constant sensory input, multi-tasking, trying to do many things all a the same time, loud noises, and flashing light patterns. The human nervous system is a marvelous thing, but it is not built to function in the face of these things on a full-time basis. Attention deficit patterns come, at least to some extent, from the activities or situations which make concentration difficult to impossible. Then a habit of non-attention or inability to concentrate deeply is established and difficult to overcome.
Make it a point to put your full concentration on whatever you are doing.Don’t let anything distract you. It really helps to be in a quiet place, but you can learn to block out noise if necessary.
Understand the essential connection between concentration and energy. Deep concentration is a matter of increasing or directing your life-force or conscious, cosmic energy. The more of this kind of energy you have, the better. Scattered energy does not help. It must be calm, focused energy. Learn to be calmly concentrated and be concentratedly calm.
Learn and practice some physical and mental energization techniques.This is an important first step toward the ability to concentrate deeply.
Take breaks. Go outside and breathe deeply or take a brisk walk. Make yourself do this often and you’ll be able to return to your task recharged and ready to focus more creatively.
Meditation is the most powerful of all concentration enhancement techniques. Learn a few simple meditation techniques and practice them at least five minutes daily.
A first step in the concentration aspect of meditation is to focus on watching your breath — not controlling it in any way, but just observing it. This helps to train yourself in taking your mind off of many things, and putting it on one thing at a time — in this case the breath. As you observe your breath, it will calm down, your brain will calm down also (this is a scientifically well-documented, mind-breath connective function), and you automatically move into a dynamic, peaceful (but not sleepy) state of being. Your mind becomes recharged and creatively receptive.
The Hong Sau Meditation greatly helps to improve concentration & still the mind:
This technique of Hong Sau Meditation per Self Realization Fellowship : You focus on the breath, and as the breath comes in, you think the word Hong, H-O-N-G, and as the breath goes out, you think the word Sou, S-A-U, and between the breath of Hong and Sau, you focus on the silence, focusing on the silence that occurs, the space between the breath. This Awareness indicates that you allow those spaces to become more significant than the Hong and the Sau, and that you keep your attention on this breathing process for a period of time, so that the mind does not have its chance to began thinking other thoughts.
This Awareness indicates you will begin to notice that the spaces between the Hong and Sau grow larger with the increased practice of this meditation. Simply listening and being aware with a mind, that is silent and attentive; this is the more appropriate and normal functioning mind.