Meditation is extremely useful for peace of mind and better concentration. However, it is very important to choose the right technique so as to enable one to derive maximum benefit of the kind one desires. Meditation is not only practiced in different ways but is also practiced with different objectives. However, no matter what your objective is there are no shortcuts and one has to go from one stage to another without attempting to bypass any of the stages. One could speed up the process by greater diligence and sincerity but bypassing any stage must not be attempted. Learning to meditate is about learning to control one's mind and have greater control over mental processes. It is not an easy feat, and takes considerable effort. So be prepared with all the patience and willpower that you have at your disposal.
How to start
First and foremost, find a calm place without noise or distraction. Meditation requires cutting off both internal and external noise. This can be quite a challenge. It is better that one meditates in the morning hours because during those hours there is least possible external noise and one's mind is also relatively uncluttered with worldly thoughts. Using any kind of music including meditation music is not advisable because Easy Meditation Techniques to improve Concentration one should take as less help of external assistance as possible.
Posture is also considered important because having a certain posture for meditation enables one to shift one into meditation mode smoothly and promptly. One of the best meditation postures is the one in which Lord Buddha is often pictured sitting - cross legged, shoulders square and hands folded in the lap. This position might seem a little uncomfortable to some, but with a little bit of practice you would be able to sit for longer durations. You could use some soft cushion to sit on while meditating to keep yourself comfortable.
Emptying the mind
After you are comfortably seated, close your eyes and start shutting out the internal and external noise that would try its best to fight its way back in. So, you need to learn concentrating on your inner self. There are many ways to concentrate, but before you take any of these you need to first observe your own thoughts. You must be cognizant of your thinking and thought process before you attempt to control them. Therefore, with your eyes closed concentrate on what comes to your mind. Some thought or image would flow in. Observe it carefully. What is it? And then try not to take note of it. Dump it consciously. Whenever a thought or idea comes in, fight it by refusing to think about it. In the very beginning try doing that. You would love the fact that you are being able to control your mind. To be able to choose what to think and what not to think is the first step towards effectively controlling your thoughts and improving concentration.
Once you feel that you are capable of defeating all thoughts and are also capable of keeping your mind empty of all thoughts for considerably long durations, it's time to move on.
Breath Meditation Technique
This technique uses breath as an object to concentrate on. Once you are capable of suspending thoughts for some time you would notice that the mind remains empty only for sometime and then a fresh thought or image drops in, and you have to once again fight back for your thoughtlessness. Sometimes the images or thoughts are really compelling and it takes quite an effort to consciously not think about them. Breath meditation technique is helpful in shifting your focus on something internal thereby enabling you to keep your mind empty of worldly thoughts for longer durations.
Concentrate on your breath. Breathe in gradually until your lungs are full and cannot take any more air. You don't have to strain your lungs to push in as much air as you can. Just keep it easy. Hold the breath for a short while and then exhale slowly, the same way as you inhaled. Keep both the inhaling and exhaling in control. Concentrate on how the air fills your being and the consequent fullness and then as it gradually empties your lungs, feel the emptiness within. In the beginning you can count your breaths. Count inhaling as one and exhaling as two until you reach ten, and then restart. After sometime start counting each set of inhaling and exhaling as one and so on until you reach ten, and then restart. The technique of counting breath is a way to reach a state when one doesn't have to count and is able to concentrate on the fullness and emptiness of this being as mentioned above. However, if you attempt the fullness-emptiness technique without going through the counting method you are likely to experience difficulties with keeping the thoughts and images out, and your experience with the fullness-emptiness technique will not be as fruitful as it should be, which would slow down your progress. So, each rung in the ladder is important and must be stepped on before you reach for the next.
Object Concentration Method
This method involves an object on which one concentrates. This is particularly useful for those who find it difficult to concentrate internally. Now, the object used for concentration can be anything from a flower vase to a table fan, but it is better to use an object that is not too thick so as to enable you to concentrate better on a smaller area.
Flame Gazing (also known as Trataka) is also one of the popular and effective forms of object concentration method. This form involves a lit candle and one is required to concentrate on the still and steady flame of the candle. Flame Gazing can only be practiced in a room that does not have moving air to sway the flame. It is better if the room is dark so as to enable you to concentrate on the flame better. Of course, while using this method also one has to only concentrate on the flame of the candle and has to keep clear of all the thoughts and the images that might seek his attention.
There are many other techniques and methods but the two mentioned above are the most frequently used ones. The basic idea is to train the mind to control thoughts and thinking. Once the mind is capable of rejecting a thought and consciously choosing what to think, the concentration improves. This can only happen when the mind is capable of thinking absolutely nothing. The ability to keep one's mind perfectly still is certainly not an easy feat, but with patience, perseverance and discipline it can indeed be achieved.
Note: This is not a piece of authoritative medical opinion or advice.