Why was the blonde looking so intently at the orange juice carton? Because it said, “concentrate”

Concentration problems stem from not understanding what concentration actually is.

First you must accept that concentrating by sheer force of will is impossible. The fact is, the human mind likes to wander, and although you may start with the best of intentions of concentrating on your piece, very soon you will be thinking about what happened on the TV soap yesterday. So, rather than fight this tendency of the human mind – a fight you will eventually loose – use it for your own ends. Let your mind wander, but keep its wanderings within the work you are doing at the moment

I will give you a simple example. Look at you right hand. Try to keep your thoughts concentrated in your hand. You will probably find that after a few seconds, your mind starts to think of something else, quite unrelated. You may even completely forget that you were supposed to be concentrating on your hand.

Now try again looking at your hand and focusing your thoughts on it. But this time let your mind wander around your hand: think of its shape. Examine the size of your nails (do they need cutting? Pianist have short nails!). Consider how your thumb opposes the other fingers, and how this allows you to grasp objects. See that the fingers have different sizes and different strengths. Look at the shape of your hand and fingers. Is it squarish? Or roundish? Or pointed?

By letting your mind wander around your hand like that you will be able to keep your thoughts focused in your hand for quite long periods of time. And your mind is nowhere as interesting as your piano scales! Or as your new piece!

Don't wait for your mind to wander on it's own accord. From the very beginning encourage your mind to wander, but control its meanderings by keeping it around your subject. And of course you can apply this little trick to anything, including that boring lesson at school!

If you keep using this strategy consistently, very soon you will discover that it becomes a subconscious habit: you will be concentrating without effort and without thinking about it, and everyone will be amazed at your powers of focus and concentration.

Then you can try two meditation techniques. One is to observe your breath (sit on a chair with a straight back, closed eyes, and put your awareness on the several breathing sensations, how it warms up as it gets in, how the air cools down as it goes out, where can you feel the air – nose, trachea – lungs, etc. this is really a variation of the “let your mind wander but control its meanderings). This should improve your concentration. Then you can try a more advanced one: Think of nothing. In fact, you will not be able to do it (no one can do it). Thoughts will arise. Your job is to observe the thoughts without following them. Think of thoughts as clouds in the sky. You want to keep your sights on the blue sky. If a cloud passes by, notice it, but do not let your sight follow it. These are long term disciplines that will work wonders not only for concentration as for performance nerves and stress.

Working on concentration is hard mental work. If you are not used to it, start by doing as little as ten minutes a day, and slowly increase the time. Over the months one should be able to see one's capacity for concentration increase from a few minutes to a few hours.

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