By Remez Sasson
As you know, concentration is very important in everyone’s life, and it is one of the main reasons for success or failure in all areas of life.
Most people find it difficult to focus their mind. However, there are times when they do concentrate, but this is a passive concentration. Let me explain.
When you read a fascinating book, do you sometimes forget everything else, and get completely immersed in the book?
When you watch a good movie or a good show, do you sometimes become oblivious to everything else, even to hunger, your chores, or to the people around you?
When you are engaged in an activity that you like very much, do you forget about the time, and it seems to pass very fast?
At such times you can ignore thoughts, noises, people, pain and problems. It is as if the activity you are engaged it, draws your whole attention, without any effort on your part. This is passive concentration.
Passive concentration is an automatic activity of the mind, initiated through external factors, but yet, it is concentration. This proves that even people, who say they cannot concentrate, actually can and do concentrate. However, this is not enough, since you also need to possess active concentration.
Now you ask, what is an active concentration?
Making plans, studying, doing something you never did before, carrying out chores and tasks that you don’ like doing, require attention, and focusing on what you are doing. Preparing for an exam, doing something that you are not accustomed to do or meditating, also require that you focus your attention. In all these cases, you might find it difficult to focus your mind.
When you do something, which you have to do, but don’t like doing, you most probably find it hard to keep your mind focused. In these instances, you have to use willpower. You need to actively and intently focus your mind, but your mind keeps being distracted.
Focusing your mind intently upon a certain thought, activity or task requires attention, willpower and perseverance. This is a conscious act, and you need to keep bringing your mind back repeatedly to the subject or activity you are focusing on. This is an active concentration. Contrary to passive concentration, active concentration it requires effort and conscious attention.
Passive concentration is quite common, and is an automatic activity. It occurs when you are engaged in subjects that you love and enjoy doing, or when there is a danger, such as, for example, while climbing a steep mountain or driving on a dangerous road. On these occasions, you have no choice but to pay attention to what you are doing.
This might sound difficult, but the mind can be trained to focus. A few minutes of concentration exercises every day, in time, will develop the ability to focus the mind on the task on hand, a thought or an idea, even without effort. You will be able to hold your mind on one thought or subject, without being distracted, even for long periods.
Just think how much time and energy you can save, and how much you can accomplish, when you develop active concentration.
You can find more information about concentration at this website, as well as a few concentration exercises. I have also written a whole chapter on this subject, with information and exercises, in my book Peace of Mind in Daily Life.