Concentration

The thirty-second bead on the blessing cord is the blessing of Concentration. It is the earth of Chokhma. This blessing brings forth the focus we need to be able to be effective magicians and spiritual seekers. Many different spiritual and magical traditions have the beginning meditation of focusing all of your concentration on one thing and clearing your mind by bringing your focus back to that one thing. Our minds and surroundings are always trying to get our attention and by focusing our concentration on something we can clear our minds and increase our ability to do magic.

When I was in the second and third grade, when my teacher would be lecturing about something boring, I would focus my attention on one spot and see how long I could hold it. This became a practice when I was bored at home or at school. I would return my focus to the dot in a painting or the tack in my poster and focus all my attention on it. I sometimes couldn’t keep the focus for very long and would go into thoughts about cartoons or whatever suited my fancy. My teacher would call it “spacing out”. Without knowing it, I was doing beginner methods of concentration meditations.

Different cultures have used focused concentration on one thing to clear the mind in meditation for thousands of years. Some bring focus to our breath, a candle, mantra, chakra, and sometimes just the releasing of thoughts. Each time their thoughts wandered they would bring their concentration back to the focus.

With breath meditation you focus your thoughts on your breath. This could just be on your normal breath or focusing on counted inhalations and exhalations. Normal breath makes you focus on your natural breath. Counted breaths have a certain number for each inhalation, exhalation, and sometimes the pauses in-between. Such as breathing in for four, holding your breath for four, exhaling for four, and then holding out for four counts, and repeating the cycle.

Many Craft teachings start you out on concentration on a candle flame. You focus your concentration on the candle and try to think only of the candle. Sometimes you even let your eyes close and see how long you can hold the image of the candle in your mind. This builds both your concentration skills and the ability to visualize.

Mantra is a Hindu and Buddhist practice of focusing our attention on a group of words or one word. Usually a Mala or grouping of beads is used to count how many times it is said. The Catholic Rosary could be said to be a mantra practice since it is a group of words said over and over with concentration. There are many types of mantras for multiple purposes. For this concentration practice you can use one of the seed sound mantas like OM from the Word chapter. You can also use an affirmation which focuses concentration and also affirms the reality that you want to achieve.

One of the practices I loved from Kundalini Awakening: A Gentle Guide to Chakra Activation and Spiritual Growth is to focus your attention on a specific chakra in your body. Where our concentration goes, our energy flows. This is a gentle way of awakening chakras by simply focusing our attention on them. The attention sends our energy to that chakra. Usually this is done first by a balancing chakra meditation, then focusing on one, followed by another balancing to smooth out the energy.

When we are concentrating on anything, it is okay for our minds to wonder as long as when we become aware that we have wandered that we return back to the focus of our concentration. Having wandering thoughts isn’t failure any more than fatigue from exercise, it’s a natural part of the process of practicing concentration. Over time working with concentration you will be able to focus for longer and longer periods of time, just like building up a muscle. This is an important spiritual and magical skill to learn. Choose a method to focus on for this meditation. Breath, a visualized candle, or mantra work best for this meditation. A great mantra is the God name of this Sephira: Yod-heh-vauv-Heh. Set a timer for your practice of concentration. You can build up from a short two minutes to fifteen or more.

Meditation of Concentration.

Hold the thirty-second bead on the blessing cord, the bead of Concentration, the blessing of Earth in Chokhma.

Count yourself down into a meditative state.

Allow the screen of your mind to expand around you to form a sphere. Resonate the god name of Chokhma: Yod heh vauv Heh.

Focus your concentration on your breath, a visualized candle, or a mantra. Gently allow your concentration to rest upon this focus. Be gentle with yourself if you begin to think or daydream and just bring your concentration back to your focus. Let your focus be your whole world as you gently release all other thoughts. Let them drift away like a released helium balloon, like clouds on the breeze. Keep your focused concentration on your focus until your timer sounds.

Know that concentration is like a muscle. The more you work with it the stronger and more enduring it gets. Every time you concentrate your mind you are getting better at it.

Feel a gentle descent and let your screen of the mind shrink back to normal size.

Count yourself up to waking consciousness.

Ground and center as needed.

Contemplation

What steals your concentration and distracts you from your focus? Is there a thought that comes up a lot to steal away your focus? What do you concentrate on the most in your life? Does that focus of concentration embody where you want to go with your life? What goals do you want to concentrate and focus on?

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