Concentration with Joy
First, sit quietly for a few minutes. Now reflect on the times in your life when you are most absorbed, concentrated and fully present. They maybe while gardening, playing tennis or basketball, writing computer code, listening to a friend, or in business, creating art, making love or cooking.
Remember how it feels in your body to let go of distractions, to release other places and times and give yourself fully just where you are. Sense the wholeness, the focus, the pleasure of concentration and absorption. Sense how satisfying it feels to the heart and mind. Remember the natural ease and happiness, the flow that is present.
Now imagine developing and enjoying the same quality of absorption and concentration and joy in meditation. Let yourself try it. The first step will be to remain relaxed and alert. Sit in whatever way brings both comfort and focus. Choose a simple meditation subject, counting the breath or gently repeating a mantra like “Om mani padme hum,” or “breathing in, calm mind, breathing out, kind heart.” Repeat it gently, over and over, concentrating gently on your subject.
As you try this practice of concentration, you will notice distractions arise again and again, like waves of the ocean washing over your focus. Gently release each distraction and difficulty. Let each distraction go and subside like a withdrawing wave. Continue steadily with your breath or mantra. To bring a sense of pleasure, lift the corners of your mouth in a subtle half smile like a Buddha.
Notice how your mind will settle down periodically. Sometimes you can concentrate for only one minute, then again after five or ten. Each time you feel settled or concentrated even for ten seconds, sense the tiny bit of ease and joy that is in your body and mind. Relax, smile gently, let the joy spread. Again and again try to sense the moments of beginning concentration. Relax, rest in them, invite them to grow, as if saying to yourself, “may ease increase, may joy increase, may steadiness increase.” Trust the moments of concentration, let them build and deepen and grow. As you do, you will gradually learn the art of concentration and receive its steadiness and joy.
This excerpt is taken from the book, “The Wise Heart”