Focus is one of the essential meditative states to develop. Almost all types of meditation from all traditions involve and train focus on a certain level. The reason is due to the vital role of focus in human life.
Focus is a condition when human attention is pointed at a single object constantly. In meditation practices, various types of objects are used as focal points where attention is focused on. Ranging from breath, mantra, body, symbols, instruments, and many more. Different meditation techniques and traditions have their special object used to focus on.
The longer meditation is practiced, the stronger the ability to direct attention to one object. However, focus is a dynamic state, like any other mental state. There will be times when it is easy to be in one-pointedness (ekagratā) but there also times when focusing attention becomes difficult.
Many things affect a person’s ability to focus, ranging from physical conditions, external situations, and psychological states. Generally, the more physically and mentally fit a person is, the more he will be able to maintain focused attention. For example, when we are tired, our attention will be distracted. Likewise, when we are stressed and have a lot of thoughts, the inner turmoil will lead us to jump from one mental object to another, so that focusing becomes difficult.
Whilst focus is an important trait to develop in meditation practice, not all types of focus have the same impact. Focus has two characteristics, the first is the exhausting, and second is a relaxing focus.
Exhausting focus is when we forces ourselves to focus and even become irritated when we find our attention wandering. On the other hand, the comforting focus is when we pays attention to an object with full attention, but in a relaxed and comfortable manner. Focus practised in meditation is the second type of focus.
Focused Attention Bring Peace to The Mind (And Our Whole Life)
When attention is pointed to a single object in a relaxing focus, the mind will become quieter and calmer over time. The mind is often likened to a monkey and called the monkey mind; jumped here and there, from place to place, relentless and restless. Hyperactive and very noisy. One moment, the mind thinking about one thing, the next second already speculating about something else. This nature of the mind is the cause we stress during the day and at night.
As our mind learn to restrain themselves from bouncing from one imaginary problem to another, tranquility emerges naturally. Even when there are some issues to concern, we will be able to think about them from a calm perspective then respond thoughtfully. The opposite will be approaching the problem with a reactive stressful state, then reacting in a way we then regret. Furthermore, this habit of bounding thoughts is that, a habit, meaning it can be rebuilt. Meditation is a way to practice the habit of focused attention.
Focus Brings Wisdom
Imagine water in a lake. If it rumbles and ripples, even more, if it’s cloudy, then we won’t be able to see anything in the water. Let alone see what is under. A calm lake, on the other hand, will show its surface clearly. Even allow seeing of what it contains.
That’s how the mind works. The mind is often too wavy and cloudy, leaving us unable to see clearly ourselves or things around us. In this state, we are vulnerable to the stress of a mistake in looking at something. This misunderstanding even raises conflict with other people.
But when the turbidity slowly recedes, then things that we ignored before begin to be realized. We begin to be able to see clearly, both ourselves, others, and circumstances. During this time of clarity, new wiser insights and thoughtful conclusions emerge naturally.
Focus Bring Joy and Happiness
A focused mind is a happy mind. When the mind is about be busy with memories and fantasies, then we will forget what is really here and now. Because we are not present, we don’t realize and enjoy its beauty. Whereas, appreciating and enjoying the beauty that every moments bring is the key recipe for happiness.
We are not happy because we do not enjoy what we have. We don’t enjoy what we have because we are busy fantasizing about what was or should be, all of wich inside our head. we are unhappy because we constantly create suffering with our mind.
Focus Bring Power
Water splashed everywhere will be evaporated, while water concentrated in a pipe can have enormous power. Like those focused water have greater force, the human mind can have enormous power if concentrated at one point.
For example, we are challenged with a job. Instead of doing it, we are busy complaining, “why me?”, “why not him?” or, “what a ridiculous job is this? How can it be done?” Instead of focusing our strength on getting the job done, we are busy with one mental drama to another. Then we find our energy depleted and lose the capability to do the actual job.
Maybe, if we just focus on the work thoroughly, many ideas will emerge, and we can think of some tricks and strategies. The energy can be focused on the completion because we are not preoccupied with the waves of complaints and mental drama. Finally, the possibility of the work being completed is even greater. So, strength and ability are greatly influenced by focus.
Focused attention is one of the meditative states that are trained during meditation practices. However, the role of focused attention is not only needed in meditation but in every aspect of life. Focused attention can be a mother that gives birth to peace, wisdom, happiness, and strength. All of these are characteristics that are needed in daily life.
In addition, these characteristics are also very closely related to one another. The happier a person is, the less stress they have, and the more optimal their physical and mental performance. The more peaceful a person is, the clearer his mind, the more bright ideas can be generated in overcoming daily challenges (that is, becoming wiser and stronger).
So, once again, the focus trained in meditation needs also to be practiced in every movement of life so that the benefits will be felt more quickly.