"Leading You Onto A Path
Where Happiness Becomes An Attitude And Success A Habit"
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"Daily Yoga Classes"

First Batch - 6:00 to 7:00 AM Second Batch - 5:00 to 6:00 PM


Mind Control Mantras
Q: Why do we get distracted in the first place?
ANS: When we do something that gives us real pleasure we seldom get distracted on our own. However, when we are doing some work, which is not so pleasing, say studying some course material we are not interested in, we are often distracted to things that are more attractive than the matter we are studying. We human beings are always looking for happiness and as such getting distracted towards pleasing thoughts and things from those comparatively less pleasing is simply a survival mechanism. Moreover, when we are unhappy with our life in general our mind tends to appease us by either dwelling in the past clinging to the pleasant memories or by dwelling in the future by chasing desires.
Q: What is it that makes some students concentrate better than others? Is it some inborn quality?
ANS: Concentration is not an inborn quality but specific interests and disinterests are. Specific interests and disinterests are inborn as genetic qualities in scientific terms, which are explained as past life conditioning by Yoga. A very strong motivation towards a purpose can also help in concentration while studying to fulfill that purpose. But knowledge acquired to fulfill a purpose cannot be retained in the recall mode for long because once the purpose is fulfilled natural disinterest towards the object of study takes over. It is like a need-based relationship, which ends with the need itself. Obviously a student highly interested in a specific topic, or the one who has a highly motivated interest in it is able to concentrate better than another student who is neither motivated nor interested in that topic. It is a known fact that the same student exhibiting a rapt attention to one specific topic looses his concentration as soon as his focus changes to another topic of his dislike. Behavior of children is a noteworthy example to substantiate the above fact. A child may give his mother the worst nightmares in the process of remembering the alphabets from A to Z but he remembers without a special training, the names of his favorite actors and actresses, the names of pictures they acted in, the songs they sing including their birthdays. In simple words he is interested in one thing and not in the other.
Q: So, what exercises can one do to improve concentration?
ANS: The word concentration is mostly misrepresented by equating it with an accepted result of concentration. The same misrepresentation is becoming apparent in the questions being raised here. By the virtue of concentration a student is capable of dwelling on a desired topic, understand the entire pros and cons explained therein and finally grasp the subject matter to perfection. By the virtue of the same concentration, the subject matter grasped thus remains in an ever-ready recall mode in the memory of that student. Again by the virtue of the same concentration the student is able to retrieve such knowledge from memory and reproduce on his answer paper. So, concentration is necessary to grasp, recall and reproduce a piece of information. The examination result proves whether these acts were performed with concentration or not. So far so good but this proves only one fact that the particular student is highly interested or motivated to learn that subject. Concentration being a side function, I repeat ‘side function’ of interest poor performance in any given subject may prove disinterest of a student in that subject but it can never prove that he is incapable of concentration. A student unable to concentrate in the class may exhibit concentration in some sport or in dance or anything else that interests him. In order to perform better if a student motivates himself sufficiently in learning a subject of his dislike the force of motivation will create sufficient interest in him and the concentration will automatically follow.
Meditation and Pranayam (Controlled Breathing) are the best tools for summoning concentration at any given time. Meditation with appropriate affirmations can help in motivating a person to create a forced interest in the subject of his dislike, but interest, whether natural or motivated, reigns supreme. Pranayam helps to control the emotion of dislike by introverting the mind. Both the techniques need to be learned and practiced but it is not difficult to learn them under proper guidance. Even the basics of these techniques shall need to be published as independent articles. However, I am giving here a technique that should be followed every time you prepare to begin an academic session.
There are two very powerful techniques called Khechari Mudra and Seetkari Pranayam. I have created variations of these techniques, which I teach in my workshops and I have named them Ardhakhechari Tantra and Rechak Seetkari Pranayam respectively. The technique I am giving here is a combination of these two variations and I have named it Ekagra Tantra. This technique is very simple but very effective.
The Technique:
Step I – Rest the cups of the palms of your hands one over the other loosely facing upwards. Stand and keep your shoulders and arms relaxed in front of you. Bend slightly forwards in the waist such that your back is not curved and your back and neck remain in a straight line.
Step II – Roll the tip of your tongue lightly onto your palate creating a tingling sensation at the palate. Keep your eyes open but defocus them completely. You know what I mean, you are looking but you are not looking sort of. Mentally repeat several times that “after this exercise is over I am going to read chapter so and so, from the book so and so, containing topic so and so and while I am reading it I will maintain a superior concentration on the topic at hand. No noises or unwanted thoughts will distract my attention till I am through with it. The assimilation of the contents will be so effective that whenever in future I may desire to recall this information it will instantly appear in my mind as if I am directly reading it from the book. All I will need to do is to defocus my eyes and think of the topic. I believe it will happen as I am told and it will be so”. While doing this mental exercise keep your tongue rolling on the palate and be aware of that tingling sensation.
Step III – Release your tongue. Take a deep breath allowing your stomach to expand as far as comfortably possible and hold your breath. Part your lips while your upper and lower denture remains in contact with each other. Now very slowly exhale with a hissing sound through your closed denture. While exhaling be aware of partition between your stomach and chest. This is the almighty diaphragm muscle, which brings you courage and frees you from nervousness, anxiety and other negative emotions. While exhaling mentally repeat the statement given in the preceding paragraph. Observe the breath coming out and keep track of it all the time. Repeat this breathing process thrice.
Step IV
– Do not look here and there, do not go anywhere else. Simply pick up your book and start reading. Repeat this entire exercise just before every study session and not only see the result but also sincerely expect it. Whenever you may want to recall the contents of matter studied in this manner, defocus your eyes, roll the tip of your tongue onto your palate and think of the matter. It will come before you as if you are reading it directly from the book.
Q: Do things like the place where a student studies and the ambience have an effect on concentration?
ANS: Yes the place of study and the ambience do have a lot of effect on concentration. Firstly the room should be well lit, ventilated and free from external noises. The room should be as simply decorated and furnished as possible and should have the basic affordable amenities. The walls should preferably be painted in off white or very light pastel shades of green or blue.
Q: What about the best time to concentrate - Is early morning most effective or does the time vary with each person?
ANS: The fourth quarter of the night from 3.30 AM to sunrise is termed as Brahma Muhurta in our scriptures and it is the most ideal time for doing work that needs concentration. This concept carries a great deal of scientific explanation with it. All the explanation cannot be given in this small article but I will provide a brief scientific explanation here. Our physical body is a Universe in itself within the Universe. Therefore what is applicable to the apparent external Universe is applicable to us also. The shortest statement to explain the phenomenon could go like this “Whatever is here is there and whatever is there is here. What is not here is nowhere”. You are aware that the nature becomes still for sometime before sunrise and for sometime just before sunset. The sunrise and sunset cause day and night respectively. There is a Richa in Rigveda, which goes thus, “Ahoratrau vibhajate kalah manushdaivike, Ratrau swapnay bhootanam cheshtayai karmanamah”. The time for men as well as the luminous ones (Devas) is divided into days and nights. Whereas the nights are for sleep and rest, the days are for work and action. The mention of the luminous ones (Devas) here indicate the natural forces and powers that are beyond human control and that is why they are mentioned as the luminous ones. The Vedic philosophy accepts only one God who is the essence of the entire creation, absolute and beyond human comprehension. The God images currently in circulation do not exist in Vedic scriptures. They are the creation of human imagination and found their place in Puranas, which were written to explain the main Vedic concepts in story forms for the enlightenment of common man.
The nature becomes still at sunrise and sunset because it must changeover from one activity to another in order to manifest the effects of day and night. If day is meant for action the nature must produce certain chemicals, which are conducive to action and similarly if night is meant for sleep the nature must produce alternate chemicals, which are conducive to lethargy. That is exactly what the nature does at sunrise and sunset. All the plant life starts consuming carbon dioxide and starts releasing oxygen in daylight, whereas it consumes oxygen and releases carbon dioxide during night. It needs no explanation that oxygen is conducive to action and its absence is conducive to lethargy. Now it is to be understood here that whenever a changeover occurs between two mutually opposite actions, the first action must come to a complete halt before the other action could commence. This is why the nature becomes still during this changeover. Everyone knows well that all the birds chirp collectively at the time of sunrise and sunset. The chirping of the birds is the yawn of the nature. This yawn of the nature sends a suggestion to the plant life to start drinking water, which triggers the release of oxygen in the morning. Similarly the chirping or the yawn in the evening sends suggestion to the plant life to stop drinking water, which in turn triggers the release of carbon dioxide. A similar phenomenon occurs within a human body. We yawn when we feel tired and exhausted from the day’s activity. The yawn sends a signal of tiredness to our Pineal Gland, which in turn desecrates a chemical called Melatonin. Melatonin is a natural barbiturate, which induces sleep. When we wake up we yawn again while flexing our body. The Pineal Gland picks up the signal again but this time to desecrate Seratonin, which is a natural exciter that prepares us for action. Like the plant life our Pineal Gland also can see the rising and setting sun to prepare us for action or retirement. Now again inside our body the changeover from lethargy to action also needs a time of stillness. That is exactly what I am trying to explain. Between 3.30 in the morning till sunrise is the time when the nature is still and our body metabolism is also still. Whatever happens there must happen here too.
In the morning when we are awake from sleep, our body having rested through the night is no more tired. However, as the exciters have yet to take over from the barbiturates, the metabolism is still and that is the time when our mind can concentrate fully. An excited and agile body seeks action and is not conducive to mental concentration. At the same time in the evening the tired body refuses to cooperate with the mind to concentrate on anything else but sleep. That is why early morning is the best time for the concentration of mind.
As regards the second part of the question it is true that some people are at their best during late nights and some at different times of the day depending on the behavior of their biological clocks. But we must not forget the fact that such adjustments of biological clocks take place as an alternative measure prompted by the survival instinct of the physical body. However, if they cared to readjust and tune their biological clocks to the natural clock they will find their ability to concentrate far improved than before. One must begin his efforts to improve concentration falling in tune with the Brahma Muhurta in order to remain focused on the job at hand for hours together. Even when subject to repeated abuse, the body of a living being instinctively aspires to survive as long as possible and therefore readjusts itself accordingly. But this kind of an adjustment is never perfect as it goes against the laws of nature. Imagine the chaos it may create if all the students start arriving at the school according to their own clocks. A human body is but a tiny speck, a microcosm within the entirety of the nature and therefore it can reach the levels of perfection only if it remained in harmony with the nature.
Q: Does the kind of food a person consumes have an impact on his/her concentration power?
ANS: Yes it does. The elementary blocks in the creation of this Universe are the three attributes, namely Sattvaguna, Rajoguna and Tamoguna. These three attributes were later on adopted, only symbolically though, as Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh respectively. Sattvaguna inspires knowledge and bliss, Rajoguna inspires desire and action and Tamoguna inspires ignorance, lethargy and sleep. All these inspirations are essential for the perfect balance of this creation. Being essential and elementary to creation these attributes are the integral parts of the entire creation. As all the food we eat falls within the jurisdiction of this creation, all the three attributes are essentially present in the food also. Knowledge and the desired concentration for its acquisition are the functions of Sattvaguna and hence if we consume food rich in Sattvaguna it is immensely helpful in the Sattvik activity of acquiring knowledge. The description of Sattvik food in order to know what to consume is provided in Bhagvat Geeta and is translated as under.

“The persons oriented to knowledge and happiness prefer food, which is juicy, containing controlled quantity of fat, of mild and uniform taste and lightly sweet, as such food is incremental to longevity, knowledge, strength, perfect health, happiness and love”.
‘Aayu’ means longevity, ‘Sattva’ means knowledge, ‘Bala’ means strength and ‘Aarogya’ means perfect health.
‘Sukha preeti’ means happiness and love. ‘Vivardhanah’ means incremental to.
‘Rasya’ means juicy, ‘Snigdha’ means containing adequate quantity of fat, ‘Sthira’ means of mild, uniform taste and ‘Hridya’ means lightly sweet.
‘Aaharah Sattvikpriyah’ means the food preferred by sattvik persons.
Juicy food means fresh natural food with high water content like fresh fruits, vegetables in raw form, sprouted grain etc. Dry fruits like almonds, resins, figs etc and oilseeds of lighter variety like til, and raw groundnuts in small quantities etc belong to the fatty food category implied here. Lightly sweet or sparingly salted Daliya, Rice or Roti with plain Dal or gently cooked and sparingly spiced vegetables, bran bread, roasted potatoes and other roots etc comprise the food of Sthira nature.
Q: In what way can parents help their child concentrate better during exams?
ANS: Avoiding noise, blaring music, unnecessary gossip, quarrels and fights etc. is a commonly known contribution the parents can make to help concentration of their child. What is important is that they must not push him too far. Expressing too much worry about his future if he fails to get high marks must be replaced by painting very casual and occasional pictures of the future if he does get good marks. Today’s student on an average is pretty motivated and is aware of the importance of good academic performance. There is no use hammering the same fact again and again, which may instill an inferiority complex and a feeling of insecurity in him. Feeling of security is the best medicine for concentration. Uninvited counseling, probing, prodding and breathing down the neck of your child would never achieve what simple love and understanding would.
Q: Is there any way of measuring your concentration power - so that one can know if there is an improvement in it?

ANS: There are no such simple devices to measure your concentration power except the EEG (Electro Encephalograph). EEG maps the brain wave activities, which gives direct indication whether the brain activity is calm or agitated. But that too may or may not be conclusive about the state of concentration.
Concentration is an intangible faculty, which can be seen in a facial expression or by the result it produces. As I have told earlier that our mind roams in the past or the future but rarely stays in the present except during the occasional bouts of superior concentration. But there is a distinct feature that proves improvement in concentration. As all of us are aware that whenever we get engrossed in one specific activity, is it a game, listening to a music of our choice or studying a subject we love most, we experience an untold happiness and a general feeling of well being. With ignorance we attach this state to the act we performed but actually it is not so. The all-engulfing awareness, call it God or call it super consciousness, it is ‘Present personified’. There is nothing called past or future in this state of awareness. Everything including past and future is present in that state of being. This state is the ultimate culmination of Sattvaguna, which as I have already mentioned inspires knowledge and happiness. Whenever we get engrossed in a pleasing activity we enjoy concentration to the extent of one-pointed ness of our mind and we are filled with Sattvaguna for such moments, which consequently fills us with happiness.
Remember such experiences of happiness from the past and observe when you start experiencing undisturbed long and happy bouts of brainstorming. When you start experiencing such moments very often understand that your concentration power is working for you. Once you realize this you will start concentrating at everything with your own compulsion. Remember always that what we are looking for in this life is happiness and your mind is always pleased to oblige you.
Q: Does music help in improving concentration?
ANS: Indian film songs and pop music is out of question but carefully selected instrumental music may do wonders. I would first want to clarify on the question itself. When we are thinking of music in terms of improving concentration we mean music as a tool, which by its own virtue creates an ambience that is conducive to concentration. Foremost of all, the tool must never override the target. If that happens the tool itself will become the target of concentration. Therefore, the music must remain in the background and from there calm our mind such that it can be concentrated on any subject of our desire. I have seen many people playing loud, exciting music for aiding their concentration but mostly they are found concentrating on the music rather than the subject they read. Loud and exciting music can help to concentrate sometimes if you are involved in a job of physical and monotonous nature. But for concentrating your mind, forget about it. I have not listened to many Symphonies in western style to comment about but I can vouch for the North Indian classical music. During the concerts of long duration the instrumentalists begin with Aalaap, which gradually progresses into Jod, Jhala and Gat. Generally the aalaap part is rendered without Tabla accompaniment and I have personally experienced its soothing and calming effect on my mind. This does not mean that the other renderings have no calming effect but when accompanied by tabla the entire composition becomes so catchy that it refuses to remain in the background and beckons our total attention. Therefore, Aalaap in any Raga of soothing nature played on Sitar, Sarod, Santoor or Flute without tabla accompaniment can do wonders.
Q: Does group studying have any impact on concentration?
ANS: Yes and No. If you are actively involved in the group discussion or activity making your statements, verifying them with the statements of others and then correcting those of others or your own as the situation may be, then such activity can generate a lot of concentration. But if you are only an observer to other people’s discussion, you may not retain your concentration for long. Moreover, group activity has always a tendency to get distracted by untimely jokes, remarks or a sudden change of topic etc.