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Establishing a Focus of Concentration

Establishing a Focus of Concentration

Having established a broad awareness we can use this to support our development of a particular point of focus, which can become the basis of our concentration. One way of thinking about this, metaphorically at least, is in terms of getting all of the aspects of ourselves that we have brought into awareness interested in our deepening experience of the object of our meditation.

In order to do this we have to notice our object as vividly as we can. We have to try and see it as it is, this can be quite challenging. For example our experience of the breath may
be quite dull and limited, and this might be because we are just experiencing the breath as we know it, having the dull old meditation we feared and, quite possibly rehearsed! We need to bring our senses alive and notice as much about the breath as we possibly can. This is often a case of relaxing into awareness. In order to bring this about we can:

Feel: The temperature of the breath. The sensations of breathing as experienced in different parts of our body, e.g. our chest, back, belly throat etc. We can even be aware of any scent that the breath may have.

Hear: The sound of our breathing going in or out. This should be at the beginning as our breath will become virtually silent as we grow calmer

See: We can imaginatively trace the journey of the breath through the body. Care needs to be taken that our attention is still primarily focused on the breath. Sometimes such images
can arise of themselves. This is fine, but again take care not to get to get too caught up in them.

By working in this way we can develop a focus of concentration that is very subtle. It is important to allow our experience to become very subtle. With time our grosser sense experience will come to be replaced with a subtle counterpart that is inherently much more absorbing than our grosser experience. In Buddhism the mind is considered a sense, as well as the five physical senses, so we can think of this as a mental sense of the object that arises on the basis of our heightened experience of our ordinary senses. This can have a dynamic and integrating effect on all the aspects of our experience that are within our broad band of awareness.

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