Paramahansa Yogananda
Quotes on Concentration

CONCENTRATION

py-roseConcentration is a state of complete one-pointedness and stillness of consciousness. The nature of creation is motion; the nature of Spirit is motionlessness. "Be still, and know that I am God" (Psalms 46:10). Concentration is therefore essential to divine communion. The techniques of concentration and meditation taught in Self-Realization Fellowship Lessons lead to perfect attunement of human consciousness to divine consciousness. (me)

SRF AUM

Concentration consists in focusing one hundred percent attention upon one thing at a time. All efficient people possess some power of concentration as a byproduct of the vocation or avocation they follow. (os)

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The Self-Realization Technique of Concentration [Hong-Sau that is taught in SRF Lessons] is uniquely scientific, because it teaches students how to reinforce the power of the human mind with the supercharged, concentrated consciousness of God.

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To be able to concentrate is essential for spiritual progress; without concentration you shall never find God. (me)

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Concentration consists in freeing the attention from distractions and in focusing it on any thought in which one may be interested. Meditation is that special form of concentration in which the attention has been liberated from restlessness and is focused on God. Meditation is concentration used to know God.

SRF AUM

1. free the mind of attachments

2. persevere and be still

3. silence the internal and external body-sensations

4. quiet the breath and the heart;
withdraw attention and the life energy into the spinal centers

5. experience stillness, peace and samadhi

— First: With newly awakened discrimination, the yogi is able to free his consciousness from egoistic attachment to his earthly possessions and his little circle of friends. His motive is not a limited and negative one of denial, 'but a natural expansion toward all-inclusiveness.

He severs limiting mental attachments, that they stand not in the way of his perception of the Omnipresent. After achieving his Goal, the love of the perfect yogi includes not only his own family and friends, but all mankind. The ordinary human being is the loser by attachment to a few persons and things, all of which he must forsake at death. The wise yogi therefore first reclaims his divine birthright; then he finds flowing to him all needful experiences and possessions.

— Second: Though the yogi finds his consciousness free of all external attachments, it still clings tenaciously within to body consciousness when he tries to meditate on God. Experiences of peace and intuitive flashes of the bliss to come encourage him to persevere against the resistance of restlessness and of the ensuing doubts as to whether his efforts are truly worthwhile.

— Third: By deep concentration on yoga techniques, the yogi next tries to silence the internal and external body-sensations, so that his thoughts may focus solely on God.

— Fourth: By the right technique of life-force control (pranayama), the yogi learns to quiet his breath and his heart; he withdraws his attention and his life energy into the spinal centers.

— Fifth: When the yogi can quiet his heart at will, he enters super-consciousness. The ego experiences joy and relaxation when it feels in peaceful sleep the subconscious mind. In the sleep state, the heart still works, pumping blood through the blood vessels while the senses are asleep. When in meditation the yogi consciously withdraws his attention and energy from his heart, muscles, and senses, these all remain as though asleep, but he has passed beyond the subconscious sleep-state of mental awareness into superconsciousness. Such conscious sensory-motor sleep bestows on the yogi a joy greater than that of a million ordinary dreamless sleeps; greater than that of any sleep a man might experience after many days of enforced sleeplessness! (bg)

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Four Factors of Concentration (by Dr. Lewis):

1. Consciousness (keep it at the Spiritual Eye)

2. Breath (observe it with detachment)

3. Heart (slows down)

4. Life Force (by control of Life Force one can attain great concentration)

Further reading...

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Withdraw the life force from the senses
Make an effort
Exercise patience and perseverance
Concentrate the mind on love or joy or peace

So I stopped thinking about the noise, and by withdrawing the life force from the senses consciously (not passively as in sleep) I sent my mind deep within to feel the joy of meditation. This is the way to conquer the bondage of the senses and environment.

So don't let yourself remain restless. As soon as you sit to meditate, talk to yourself— command the body and mind to become calm. ...

Start by concentrating the mind deeply on
the thought of love or joy or peace
.
Go on concentrating
until your thought becomes absorbed in that feeling.

When your thought process ceases and there is only the great feeling of peace or love or joy, and when you can absorb yourself in that feeling at will, then you have control of yourself.

When that feeling of peace or joy comes over you, mentally chant: "I and my Father are one." Repeat that again and again, broadcasting to Him with ever deeper concentration and devotion, until you feel that joy ever-increasing. Then you know that you have tuned in your mental radio with the cosmic radio of God, and that God has responded to your prayer-broadcast. ...

Being made in God's image, we have all the power that God has; but that power man has not used. That power can only come when your mind is perfectly free from bodily attachments.

But you don't make enough effort;
you don't exercise patience and
perseverance
in meditation.

Your mind can be compared to a glass of muddy water. If you let the glass stand for a long time, the mud will settle at the bottom of the glass and the water will become fairly clear. So when you sit down for a while to concentrate, your mind is muddy with restless thoughts. But if you sit long enough, repeatedly bringing the wandering mind back to the practice of meditation, you will see that all thoughts settle down; and in that stillness you will feel superconsciousness. (mg)

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The trouble with most people is that when they are performing an action they are thinking about something else. They don't know how to concentrate on what they are doing when they are doing it. You should learn to think of one thing at a time with all the power of your mind. Your whole attention should be there. Don't drag along. Doing things in a lackadaisical way leads to failure and misery. (me p.391)

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How can you increase your receptivity, and thus quicken your evolution? By consciously condensing all your experiences through the power of concentration. Concentration means to gather in your attention, focusing it to one point; condensation means to use that concentrated attention to do something quickly that ordinarily would take a long time. By concentration you can condense each experience and garner whatever wisdom is to be learned from it. By condensation of individual experiences you can compress all your experiences, and the wisdom they contain, into a shorter length of time and thus gain much more than if you go through life haphazardly. (sm)

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Ordinarily, men do not concentrate—the mind is restless, and the restless mind jumps at conclusions and races for something that does not rightfully belong to one. You must obey divine law. Remember: Concentrate, and then ask Divine Power to help you. (sm)

SRF AUM

After adopting the right methods of living [1-2 step], you must learn to quiet the body and mind, and this begins with right posture [3]. Always sit upright, with the spine straight. This is particularly essential for meditation. Mastery of the restlessness of the body produces great mental power.

The fourth step is to switch off the life force from the body, so that the attention is freed for inner contemplation on God [4]. You cannot commune with God by emotional or muscular demonstrations. When the life force is shut off from the muscles and senses, sensations cannot reach the brain to disturb one's inner concentration. ...

The masters have said we should practice pranayama, which means methods to control the life force in the body. Pranayama brings results much faster than simple prayer or other methods of diverting the mind from sensory distractions. In one life you can attain God-consciousness by Self-Realization techniques. Meditation, which is possible only after achieving interiorization, is to experience consciously, with the full possession of your mind, that state of divine peace and joy which you feel subconsciously in sleep.

After successful pranayama, your consciousness becomes interiorized. This interiorization is the fifth step [5]. You will find your mind fully alert and concentrated within, ready to enjoy the divine peace and presence of God in deep concentration and meditation, the sixth and seventh steps [6-7]. When you are in this way able to close off distracting sensations, you will be at the altar of God. (dr p.364)

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4. Pranayama - techniques of life-force control that calm the heart and breath and remove sensory distractions from the mind.

5. Pratyahara - the power of complete mental interiorization and stillness resulting from withdrawal of the mind from the senses.

6. Dharana - the power to use the interiorized mind to become one-pointed concentrated upon God in one of His aspects through which He reveals Himself to the inward perception of the devotee. (sc p.1182)

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To develop one's powers of concentration, one should do everything with deep attention. Most people perform activities absentmindedly. There is a great gulf between their actions and their thoughts. (os)

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Real concentration is one-pointed focusing of the mind on a particular thought by means of definite scientific methods.

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When a person by unshakable concentration can visualise any image or object with closed eyes, he gradually learns to do the same with open eyes. Then by further development of concentration, he can connect with God’s all-powerful consciousness and can materialise his thought into an object, perceived not only by himself but by others also. (bg)

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All successful men and women devote much time to deep concentration. (os)

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Most people develop mental efficiency as a by-product of their efforts for material success. Mental efficiency depends upon the art of concentration. You must know the scientific method of concentration by which you can disengage your attention from objects of distraction and focus it upon one thing at a time without deviation. (os)

SRF AUM

How can you increase your receptivity, and thus quicken your evolution? By consciously condensing all your experiences through the power of concentration. Concentration means to gather in your attention, focusing it on one point; condensation means to use that concentrated attention to do something quickly that ordinarily would take a long time. By concentration you can condense each experience and garner whatever wisdom is to be learned from it. (jt)

SRF AUM

Further reading:

Hong-Sau...

Concentration...

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References:
(aoy) — Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda
(bg) — God Talks with Arjuna: The Bhagavad Gita by Paramahansa Yogananda
(dr) — The Divine Romance by Paramahansa Yogananda
(jt) — Journey to Self-Realization by Paramahansa Yogananda
(me) — Man's Eternal Quest by Paramahansa Yogananda
(os) — Other Sources... Talks, Booklets
(sc) — The Second Coming of Christ by Paramahansa Yogananda
(sm) — Self-Realization Magazines