“When the controlling faculties (autonomic) are in an untrained condition, the impulses, passions, emotions, thoughts, actions, and habits of the person suffer from lack of regulation, and the procedure of mental concentration is not good, not because the mind is necessarily weak in the autonomic department of the faculties, but because the mind is not properly trained.” – Theron Q. Dumont
Letting your impulses, appetites, emotions, and passions go unchecked has a corresponding effect on the mind and therefore your ability to concentrate will be weak. Dumont sites three causes for having a poor ability to concentrate. 1. Deficiency of the motor centers. 2. An impulsive and emotional mind. 3. An untrained mind.
The impulsive and emotional mind can be corrected by checking your emotions. This takes a lot of consistent effort and practice, but it can be done. To read more on how to do this, click here. Avoid food and drink like alcohol and caffeine if you have difficulty controlling your emotions and impulses because they will only aid the problem. Also avoid people you know who are unstable and impulsive as well as music that promotes that kind of thinking. What you feed your mind has a direct influence on the way you think, act and feel.
If you know someone who is very calm and controlled, do your best to associate with them and observe and copy their ways. You are the sum of the 5 people you associate with the most so surround yourself with people you know who have developed a good degree of self-mastery and absorb all you can from them.
Avoid negative states. I know this is easier said than done, but until you have developed sufficient emotional control, do things that help you get out of negative states. This is a great way to practice the use of your will power and concentration. Work out, listen to uplifting music or accomplish one small task and that will give you momentum to get out of it. Negative states greatly hinder your ability to concentrate and to use your will power.
“The person who allows his mind to roam will never accomplish a great deal in the world. He wastes his energies. If you work, think, talk, and act aimlessly, and allow your brain to wonder from your subject to foreign fields, you will not be able to concentrate. You concentrate at the moment you say, “I want to, I can, I will.” – Theron Q. Dumont
Stop mindlessly strolling through social media. What you are doing is training your mind to be unable to concentrate on anything for than a minute. I see this everywhere. People are so obsessed with getting the next dopamine hit from social media that they can’t focus for long on anything and wonder why they get bored so easily and can’t keep their attention on one thing for very long. They can’t read a book for more than 5 minutes and would probably scroll right through this post without reading every word, and it’s all a result of the way they have been training their minds with social media and meaningless TV.
Watch yourself closely. Regulate your thoughts, feelings and actions. By careful observation of yourself and others you begin to improve your mental faculties and with time you can be the engineer of your thoughts and actions, and instead of being a victim to outside influence you can be the master of your inner space.
Dumont recommends watching a person you know who has a reputation for being a strong character. Watch and see what great control they have of their body. Then watch a normal person and see how they needlessly expend their energy constantly moving their eyes around, nervously moving their arms and legs, unable to have command over their bodies.
If you can control your body and your physical movements and not allow your body to move about without your direction, you will greatly train your mind to have control over the motor centers and develop concentration.
Practice developing self-control and you will be able to concentrate. How can you concentrate if you allow your attention to waiver at the slightest distraction? Eliminate unnecessary movements. Replace negative thoughts with good ones and check your emotions and practice being calm in the storm. Practice holding one thing in your mind at a time, and you will train your mind to concentrate.
At the beginning of your day, resolve to be self-poised and do your best to remain so throughout your day. At the end of the day, reflect on how well you did to keep your resolution and then attempt to do better the next day.
“Concentration means success, because you are better able to govern yourself and centralize your mind; you will become more in earnest in what you do, and this invariably improves your chances for success.” – Theron Q. Dumont
“All work assists in development. By what you do you either advance or degenerate. This is a good idea to keep in mind. When you are uncertain whether you should do something or not, just think by doing it you will grow or deteriorate and act accordingly.” – Theron Q. Dumont
This doesn’t mean you have to be an emotionless, stiff robot. Work when you work and play when you play. When you are doing things for your enjoyment, give yourself up to it and you will develop concentration. If you’re at the beach or working out, or whatever it is that you do for enjoyment, think of only that and ban thoughts of work, what you have to do tomorrow or of whatever personal problems that you may have.
Practice deep breathing. The mind is associated with the nerves and muscles. By concentrating on your breath and breathing deeply you will steady your circulation and soothe your muscles and nerves. Controlled breathing is a foundation of health, and the breath is one of the only major functions of the body that we have control over, and it influences almost everything in the body. It is impossible to concentrate when the body is out of control, but by concentration on the breathing, we can regulate the body and thus regulate the mind.
“If you feel yourself getting irritable, nervous or weak, stand squarely on your feet with your chest up and inhale deeply and you will see that your irritability will disappear, and a silent calm will pass over you.” – Theron Q. Dumont
To have concentration you must have control over the mind and the body; you cannot have one without the other so anything you do that helps develop control of your body will great develop your ability to concentrate. Static exercises are great for doing this. When you learn to control your body, you are gaining control of your mind.
My sensei used to have us sit in our horse stance with our arms out to our sides for long periods of time. It was horrible, but as I got older, I understood its value in training not the body, but in training the mind. The body will want to quit way before its actual limits, and if you can concentrate the mind on the task at hand and not allow yourself to be swayed but the pain or by thoughts of giving up, then you will strengthen your will power and train both mind and body to withstand adversity.
“A man may be very capable, but, unless he Wills to control his abilities, they will not do him any good.” – Theron Q. Dumont