I am having trouble maintaining concentration for long periods of time. I make my breath slightly hard and then pull my mind back to it and then carry on as normal. But it's quite hard to have a long sustained period of breath observation. Once maintained I try to move from head to feet taking large body parts such as head, abdomen, arms and legs. Do this for a while and then the mind wanders away again and come back to breath.

At times the mind wanders for long periods of time until I realise it's wandered away. I haven't been able to penetrate and observe smaller, subtler sensations since a year now. I know it's harder to do this at home than at a retreat but I am wondering if this has something to do with my Silas.

Although they are not the most perfect I do try my best to maintain them.

Anyone stuck in similar phases and overcame it? Suggestions are welcome.

Ps. I am a Goenka student and very faithful towards it and have never tried anything else and don't intend to as I am very happy with the results this technique has brought me.

  • You're happy with the results of Goenka body-scanning, but you're having concentration trouble. It may be you should augment your Goenka work with something else, to helpyour concentration. See @Eric.Void's answer on having a look at Alan Wallace's books; maybe try shamatha for a while. Consider that Jack Kornfield, a strong Vipassana practitioner, reports he suffered from poor concentration and it was pursuing some metta-based meditation that he overcame that. You may need to get some variety into your practice -- Goenka bodyscanning is only one of several quite respectable approaches.
    – tkp
    Dec 10, 2014 at 0:25

3 Answers 3


When you breath be mindful of the start to end of the in and out breath. For each breath in and out breath be mindful of whether your mind wandered away during this time. Also note the length of the breath in and out breath.

When scanning the body keep your concentration anchored on the breath and sensation on the base of the nose as well. If your mind wanders away bring it back to Anapana and then continue the scanning. For each in and out breath see if your mind has wondered away for that period. Also note the sensations that arise when your mind wanders to an alternative object and the sensation when it is with the chosen object.

In some parts stay for a while (but not too long) also focusing on the breath. Sometimes this helps sharpen the mind to see clearly the sensation arising and passing away in the particular section of your body.

  • Is this samatha?
    – ruben2020
    Dec 29, 2014 at 8:41

Firstly to my understanding Sila is very important part of a meditation practice. It purify the morality and ready your for the meditation.

If you have troubles with the meditation, I think the fist step is to start with Sila. Try to keep five precepts or the ten precepts. Without Sila, you cannot success with your meditation practice as it is the first step of the threefold training.

Secondly I think it is not a good idea to force yourself to keep the mind from wandering, if you try this you will find that over and over again the mind will wander. Be kind to the mind and let it to settle down. When you found it is wondered, just notice it accept it and bring it back to the meditation object.

Hope this helps.


Read Alan Wallace's "The Attention Revolution: Unlocking the Power of the Focused Mind".

For short, practice shamata. Practice to focus your attention on the breath, and practice to keep your focus on it as long as you can. Even if you can't sustain it for more than a few seconds, keep practicing. If you can sustain your focus on the breath, you can sustain it in any other meditations.

If you want a more didactic explanation from someone trustworthy, read Wallace's book.

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