How to increase Concentration?

Positive Psychology and Flow

  • Martin Seligman and Positive Psychology – From ‘not good enough’ to ‘good enough’
  • Milhaly Csikszentmihalyi and Flow – Quality of experience and quality of life

Flow in Composing Music

‘You are in an ecstatic state to such a point that you feel as though you almost don’t exist. I have experienced this time and again. My hand seems devoid of myself, and I have nothing to do with what is happening. I just sit there watching it in a state of awe and wonderment. And (the music) just flows out of itself.’

Features of Flow

a) A challenging activity requiring skills

b) Merging of action and awareness

c) Clear goals and feedback

d) Concentration – Forget all problems of life with tremendous focus

e) Feeling in Control

f) Loss of self awareness

g) Transformation of Time – For example, Time moves faster/ slower.

Merging Action and Awareness

  • When one works with concentration, losing all consciousness of oneself the work that is done will be infinitely better
  • If the painter, losing the consciousness of his ego, becomes completely  immersed in his painting, he will be able to produce masterpieces

Karma Yoga in the Gita

  • The Gita teaches that all works should be done thus. He who is one with the Lord through Yoga performs all his works by becoming immersed in concentration, and does not seek any personal benefit.
  • Such a performance of work brings only good to the world, no evil can come out of it. Those who work thus never do anything for themselves.

Swami Vivekananda on Concentration

“To me the very essence of education is concentration of mind, not the collecting of facts…”

The difference between an ordinary person and a great person lies in the degree of concentration…..

The ‘Cobra Feeling’

  1. A mental bearing down on a subject.
  2. hood flaring to block distractions.
  3. Hold steady in your unblinking focus.

Concentration plus Detachment

According to Swami Vivekananda

…So along with the development of concentration we must develop the power of detachment. We must learn not only to attach the mind to one thing exclusively, but also to detach it at a moment’s notice and place it on something else….

To me the very essence of education is concentration of mind, not the collecting of facts. If I had to do my education over again, and had any voice in the matter, I would not study facts at all. I would develop the power of concentration and detachment, and then with a perfect instrument I could collect facts at will.

How does it feel to be in flow?

  • Completely involved in what you are doing – focused, concentrated.
  • A sense of ecstasy – of being outside everyday reality
  • Greater inner clarity – knowing what needs to be done, and how well we are doing.
  • Knowing that the activity is doable – our skills are adequate to the task.
  • A sense of serenity – no worries about oneself, and a feeling of growing beyond the boundaries of the ego.
  • Intrinsic motivation – whatever produces flow becomes its own reward
  • Timelessness – thoroughly focused on the present, hours seem to pass by in minutes

Cognition – Scarce Resources!

  1. Our limit: 7 bits of information at a time
  2. to discriminate: 1/18 of a second
  3. Capacity = 126 bits per second
  • 7,560 bits per minute
  • 500,000 bits per hour approx.
  • 185 billion bits in a 70 year life span

4. It takes 60 bits per second to listen to one person!

5. Pay attention!’ – literally true

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