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What is the best way to focus?

And also how can I stop passing judgment on myself during? Its really difficult.

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What is the best way to focus?

Initially bring your mind to the object. Now note (without any verbalization or visualisation) any sensations anything you feel about the object. This can be a something like touch of air in breathing or more particularly related to the elements or positive, neutral and or negative perceptions and sensory reaction if mental. (additional information see: Pahāna Sutta, Dhātu Vibhaṅga Sutta, Titth’ayatana Sutta) Now knowing the mind is on the object try to bring the mind to the object again, i.e., retain the mind on the object.

And also how can I stop passing judgment on myself during? Its really difficult.

Judgement about self to arise you need through about self. Just focus on the object so all metal activity is directed at being focused until such time you mind just sticks with the chosen object and thoughts do not arise. This way you can aviod judgements about self.

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To focus, you remember to keep the mind on the meditation object (breathing) &, when the mind strays, just bring it back to the object.

When the mind strays, it is not "you" that is intentionally straying but the mind itself therefore it is not logical to judge "yourself" since the mind is the problem rather than "yourself".

If the mind is straying a lot and you are judging yourself a lot, you may have to train the mind new ways of acknowledging the straying, such as mentally noting: "The mind is straying"; "the mind has craving"; "the mind has anger"; "the mind is restless"; etc or simply: "straying"; "craving"; "anger"; "restlessness", etc.

In this way, instead of judging "yourself" & attributing blame upon "yourself" unnecessarily & unwarrantedly, the mind is judged or the states of mind are judged.

There are preliminary meditation techniques for beginners such as the popular Mahasi Sayadaw method that use this kind of mental noting. You may check out these methods or, otherwise, read about how the Buddha dealt with his straying mind in the sutta on Two Kinds of Thinking.

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One of the biggest obstacles that beginners often run into is trying to focus. This strategy is very artificial and is often extremely counter productive. Seng Ts'an, the third patriarch of Zen states this plainly when he says "when you try to stop activity to achieve passivity, your very effort fills you with activity". Don't do that.

Let's look at your mental ecology for a minute. First, you are exerting effort and trying to achieve mental focus. I don't know about you, but whenever I try to do anything, my body clenches, my breath gets shorter, and my mind resembles something like television static. That's no way to enter samadhi. To add to your problems, the amount of self-judging going on is just going to make matters worse. Frankly, if you find yourself getting into that kind of try-critique-frustration loop, my best advice to you is to get up off the cushion, go for a walk, or make yourself a cup of tea. Either of those are going to benefit you far more than staying on the cushion and beating yourself up.

You need to relax, my friend. Meditation isn't like lifting weights or running track. Crushing down on your meditation object is the exact opposite of what you want to be doing. One-pointedness is something that arises all of its own. It's not something that you create through effort. All you can do is set the table. Samadhi will show up to eat if he likes what you laid out for him.

I could give you some hokey metaphor - something about how the dishes on the table are moral discipline, the mashed potatos your karmic roots, or something equally dreadful. I'm not because I think you've got enough swimming around in your head already. Instead, my advice to you is to do nothing. I'm serious. Sit on the cushion or even a chair. Plop down on a bed. It doesn't matter. Just spend thirty minutes there being completely still and doing absolutely nothing. Don't count your breath. Don't watch your thoughts. Don't do anything! Just hang out and don't move a muscle. Easy peasy, right? I'll bet you still struggle with it, but so long as you are doing nothing, you are doing it right. If you find this boring, great. In fact, I hope you do. Boredom is what it feels like when your small mind is struggling to stay afloat in the ocean of Big Mind. You want to drown that bastard.

This should be a regular form of self care. We all spend way too much time doing. Instead, make a point of don'ting. Go for a hike. Practice zhan zhaung (which is sort of what I'm recommending above). Whatever. It doesn't matter. Just stop trying so damn hard. Once you've don'ted consistently for a while, you should begin to have a better idea of what it is to passively watch or be with the breath versus attacking the poor thing. And remember, the Buddha's path is good in the beginning, good in the middle, and good in the end. It should never be a source of self loathing. Just relax.

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the best object for beginner to concentrate on is breathing, the reason is because you have it, you dont have to visualisation when you meditate, keep focusing on your breath, dont control it, just let it breath by itself, when your mind start to wander around(not focus) then take a deep breath and start it all over again good luck, you can do it!!!

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There is so many hindrance to focus in meditation. To overcome this, one must be truly modest first. To take refugee in three Gems and also to the meditation master. To ask for pardon for all the misdeed physically, verbally or mentally either knowingly or unknowingly. Also to forgive everybody for their misdeed to you. All the preparation made with strong belief, it is easier to get concentration. After that with the most comfortable, posture, start noting mindfully "breathing in, know it, breathing out , know it" focusing at the tip of the nose and no where else. Still difficult to focus, just remember Arahan or any qualities of Buddha which you prefer and after that resume meditation. It will surely help you.

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Buddha talked about focusing on body (breath is part of the body) more often, than also he talked about 3 other foundations (Satipatthana)

you may focus your attention on any of the 4 foundation of mindfulness

  • body (breathing)
  • feeling (feeling of equanimity from meditation)
  • Consciousness (the awareness itself)
  • and dhammas (such rise and fall/unreliable/subject to destruction of each of the above)
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If it is difficult to focus, please check

  1. Did you take (at least) eight(8) precepts before meditation?
  2. You have to please yourself that your day is good and you didn't break any of eight precepts so that any immediate judging yourself will not occur.
  3. Are you doing meditation in quiet place where no sound distraction, no view distraction (the best practice is closing your eyes during meditation but any movement of people passing by, etc)?
  4. Dedication to meditation (you have strong determination to commit meditation no matter what dangers and hinderances you need to overcome).

For the people with difficult to focus, it is good to start watching breathing-in and breathing-out. Most important fact is you need to breath normally and naturally. If you try to breath faster, you will get tired very soon. If you try to breath slower, you will get distracted.

The very first beginner can start counting breath, breath in and breath out count as one, another pair two and so on. Counting should not less than 5 and not more than 10 so that any mathematical distraction is not involved during meditation.

The next stage is just watching on breathing in and breathing out without counting. There might be some distractions happen in your mind and lose attention on breath-in and out. Then you need to know there is distraction. As soon as you know there is distraction the train of thoughts(or some other form of distraction) will cease. Then you need to put your attention back to breath-in and out again. You need to do this till you are master to putting your attention back as fast as you start distracted. Soon you can get full attention on Anapanasati.

Mind is very fast to tend to distraction even if you can do full attention to your breath-in and out. Then you need to do next level of Anapana. Get your attention to beginning of breath-in, middle (the air passing in your nose) of breath-in, end of breath-in; the beginning of breath-out, middle (the air passing out your nose) of breath-out, end of breath-out. If you can master this level of attention on Anapana, you can probably be free from focus problem in meditation.

For the next levels of meditation, you need to approach a good teacher who can closely guide you. People with different hobbies, perspectives, intentions and goals needs to be taken care of by individually. You definitely need to go meditation centers and need to do proper retreat. There you can nurture/practice your mindfulness, concentration, and whatever you are looking for.

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