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How to Focus Better Using a Simple 2-Sentence Concentration Meditation

How to Focus Better Using a Simple 2-Sentence Concentration MeditationWhen I was suffering from horrible food reactions that triggered my manic depression symptoms, one simple concentration mediation helped me focus better.

And it’s probably one of the most unusual meditation techniques for focus you’ll have ever encountered. (It’s only 2 sentences long.)

But I’m guessing it’s going to help you a ton, especially when you combine it with one of the recommendations at the end of this post.

Curious yet?

Here’s what this post will cover:

Let’s dig in.

How to Calm Down and Focus Your Mind

Chances are, you found your way to the Magnetic Memory Method because you want to improve your memory.

A woman with braids stands on a forest path in a chunky sweater with her eyes closed.

But here’s the thing: memory improvement is a simple thing to learn, but not if you can’t focus or concentrate.

And that’s what used to happen to me when I ate foods that weren’t good for me. It’s not that they weren’t healthy foods. But weird reactions took place whenever I ate certain ingredients, and it was a long time before I figured out what I needed to remove from my diet.

And as I explored this process through elimination diets and rotation diets, I would sometimes make a mistake and experience a MASSIVE mood swing. I would literally freak out, usually just inside my mind.

It’s like something apocalyptic. It really felt like the end of the world and I could not focus my mind.

Well, in this second post in our “Focus Your Mind” series, I’d like to share a simple process anyone can use to calm down and regain focus.

It might take a bit of practice, but what skill worth learning doesn’t require practice? (The answer is… none.) I honestly don’t know how much practice you’ll need, but for me, the results were almost instantaneous.

And that’s because I combined this simple concentration meditation with the three elegant and powerful ways to increase concentration power we discussed in part one of this series.

The simple and fast concentration meditation I have for you today comes from a long series of self-inquiry questions I’ve memorized. These questions are deceptively simple. In fact, they are so simple, some people might not even bother trying them.

Please don’t be in that crowd. We got enough hoi polloi running around mindlessly, don’t you think? And by the way, please don’t mistake me for being arrogant. Sometimes I still fall into the traps of hoi polloi thinking myself.

Focus Better With This Concentration Meditation

That’s why I love this simple and fast concentration meditation based on two self-inquiry questions:

  1. Are my thoughts useful?
  2. How do they behave?

I got these two questions from Dr. Gary Weber’s book Evolving Beyond Thought: Updating Your Brain’s Software. I highly recommend it.

A person stares up at the night sky full of stars. Better focus can be a result of this concentration meditation.

When I first memorized the full Sanskrit set of self-inquiry passages given in the book, I made a fruitful mistake. You see, all the Sanskrit is listed at the back.

Below is the very first Sanskrit I memorized from the books (in English translation):

chittam eva mahaa dosham
thought alone great folly

chittam eva hi baalakaH
thought alone is small boy

chittam eva maha atma ayaM
thought alone great soul this

chittam eva maha anasat
thought alone great unreality

Now, that’s very powerful too, but when I was reciting the Sanskrit, I kept thinking, Are my thoughts useful? How do they behave?

And the answer to the question is usually something like the English translation of the Sanskrit.

My thoughts are usually completely mistaken about what is really going on in reality. They are, therefore, in folly.

The thoughts usually are something like a scared boy, running around and crying, even though I am an adult. I’ll extend that a bit further in a moment.

The point is that, although our thoughts are real, and really do happen to us, what they point to often is not real. And in the midst of pain, or food reactions and mood swings, it was very easy to get caught up in the suffering and think my thoughts were real.

It happens to a lot of people. All day long.

Create Better Focus, Memory, and Ease

Instead, with these two simple questions, you step into a state of self-reflection. With practice, the noisy thoughts simply break up and fade away.

A person holds a camera lens. The focus shows a canal in Amsterdam, with the rest of the photo in soft focus.

Because I’ve gone on to memorize all 32 of the Sanskrit phrases in Evolving Beyond Thought, I’ve gotten better at breaking up thoughts for longer and longer periods of time.

This has created great stillness and made it possible for me to remember even more than I used to before. I can also read with greater focus — and that means more pleasure.

And I don’t get hung up on things like I used to, sometimes completely ensnared by internal battles that had absolutely no bearing on reality.

Now, whether you want to memorize the English or go for gold with the Sanskrit too, the process is fun, simple, and relatively easy.

I don’t know why some people take to these skills like ducks to water, but don’t worry if you struggle. Many people are able to work through their issues with the Memory Palace technique. I’ve even got a free course that takes you through everything (and includes worksheets and student examples).

And if you find yourself getting frustrated with any of the steps, just use this simple meditation to help you get past it.

Are my thoughts useful?

How do they behave?

I do this myself when taking courses and dealing with paperwork. And believe me, I take a lot of courses and deal with a ton of things, just like everyone else.

Obviously, I’m very glad I’ve memorized so many of these self-inquiry tools, but I started with just the two in this post. The impact they make helped me immediately, and it keeps getting better and better the more I practice.

Plus, Dr. Weber was very wise in placing these phrases first due to something in memory called the primacy effect, which almost guarantees that what we encounter first will be remembered the most and with the greatest ease.

Likewise, what we remember last will have similar ease. It doesn’t always happen, but if you do memorize all 32, you’ll find that there’s great wisdom in how the sequence ends too.

How to Focus Better By Taking Action

Whatever you do, just get started.

Some people overthink things, and you know what…I did too. I meditated for years, “sitting just to sit,” as Alan Watts put it. There was no way I was going to chant things or do yoga or anything that even remotely smacked of religiosity.

A person in a coat and winter hat sits at the top of a mountain at sunset, overlooking the clouds below.

And to be clear, as good as the primacy effect can be, my encounter with Alan Watts’ sitting just to sit technique held me in that prison for a long time.

But I had the great fortune of someone who introduced me to Dr. Weber’s books. And because it’s all based on real science and experiments anyone can run, that was exactly what I needed to hear to give it a try.

Please be kind to yourself if you can’t get yourself to take action. I’ve been there too. I’ve been the horse led to water who would not drink so many times it almost makes me want to poke my eyes out like Oedipus with regret.

We’re just hoi polloi, every last one of us. And the sooner we realize that our memory and things like the primacy and recency effect are both a cure and a poison, the sooner we can get on with experimenting and using our memory in different ways.

If you need help to memorize the English and Sanskrit, be sure to sign up for the free course.

Magnetic Memory Method Free Memory Improvement Course

Maybe you’re wondering why you have dreams and desires, hopes and goals, but can’t ever be consistent in taking steps to accomplish them.

I truly have no idea, but maybe it’s a lack of focus and concentration due to unwanted thoughts. If you’re struggling to focus, please give this meditation a try.

Commit to Better Focus

One last tip:

This is going to sound crazy, but, if you really want to turn this simple meditation into a habit that lasts for life, get yourself a journal and commit to completing it for 90 days.

Richard Wiseman’s 59 Seconds goes deep into why 90 days is a kind of magic number, and you’ll get a lot more success out of that.

You want to practice so that you’re prepared — remember that in the first post of this series, I gave you some tips on how and where to set up a daily practice along with three more focus and concentration exercises you don’t want to miss.

Check it out if you haven’t already, and do those things for 90 days too.

I’m confident it will change your life completely for the better and you’ll look back and wonder why they don’t teach this stuff in schools. And then maybe you’ll go teach them in schools yourself, or at least teach someone else.

That’s important, because you learn more by teaching what you know and the more you learn, the more you can learn.

And if you want to learn how to focus better using the Memory Palace technique, don’t forget to sign up for your copy of the free memory training.

8 Responses

  1. You commented that you suffer from chronic pain.

    I suffer from chronic back pain and it interferes a lot with the quality of life in general. And it interferes a lot with the use of mnemonics, creation of magnetic images and use of memory palaces.

    This is frustrating because the pain it leads to mental confusion, disorder, lack of focus, many times during the day I can’t concentrate and recover autobiographical, episodic and even semantic and spatial memories. It seems that my mind is in a blur. I just turned 20 and that also affects me with my personal life, relationships, studies, professional life and the use of mnemonics.

    I would really appreciate your help, what were the techniques and treatments that helped you the most to reduce the pain?

    1. Thanks for your post and for sharing your experience.

      Ultimately, it’s not about one technique. It’s about combining many memory techniques together with overall life optimization.

      You’ll want to look at diet, sleep, any fitness you can get that doesn’t aggravate your condition and a solid learning journey that you find fulfilling.

      There’s also a GQ article out there with George Clooney where he talks about dealing with chronic pain. Although it doesn’t have any tips per se, it can provide solace knowing that even tremendously successful people sometimes have to deal with similar things.

      Yet, they still manage to do well in life and that means you can too.

      1. First thanks for the answer. I will read the article.

        Secondly, the self-inquiry you talk about in your book the winning mind brings relief to this kind of problem?

        It’s just a doubt that came to me, I read your book and I was very moved. It brought tears to my eyes because I identified with your life story and it brought me a little light.

        1. Self-inquiry can potentially provide relief. It certainly has done so for me.

          I’m glad my book helped provide a little light. If you continue to explore that approach, I’m sure even more light will break through.

          But make sure to understand that it’s not just about the self-inquiry. That is part of a larger mix of ongoing health, diet and sleep optimizations. If you focus only on one part of the program, it is unlikely the fullest possible relief will be achieved.

          Does this way of looking at things help you out?

  2. I’m here because I’ve just finished watching your TED talk and I’m puzzled in what an answer to a question “what do they behave like” should be. Could you please give me some examples, so I can better understand the meaning of the question please?
    Thank you 🙏

    1. Thank you for this question, Stanislava.

      In my experience, the benefit of the question “how do my thoughts behave” is to ask it so that you can find out how you respond. For example, if you start worrying about something and you ask how the thoughts are behaving, you might answer your own question with: “They are behaving worried.”

      You now have the basis for an objective analysis not just of the thought’s content, but how it is operating (its form). Only you can answer the question, but the more you start to experience thinking as a behavior, the more you can contextualize the instances as kinds of behavior.

      As we practice “labeling” them, they change character and may even fall away.

      Essentially, I’m suggesting we see thoughts as behavioral patterns, ideally without creating a new story around them.

      Does this response help?

      1. Hi Anthony,

        I really appreciate you taking the time to answer the question. That’s why I’d also like to add something related to this topic.

        I’ve been meditating for years, but I never became as aware of my thoughts as I did when I tried using the two self-inquiry questions. I practice meditation even when I’m jogging. So, a few weeks ago while I was jogging, it occurred to me to try your advice and recite the two self-inquiry questions. I believe I immediately started to see my thoughts more clearly than I had before, despite practicing many types of meditation. I had even practiced Atma Vichara before, but not specifically these two questions. Perhaps the combination of jogging and these two questions permeated my mind better. That evening, while back home washing dishes, I still observed the flow of thoughts. Yesterday, while jogging again, I repeated the questions in my mind and became even more aware of the stream of thoughts. This time, I realized that I should not give any answer to the questions, but simply plant them as seeds and wait to see what happens. For the first question, I noticed a tendency to analyze the content of the thoughts, but that would lead to other stories dragging me inside them. Observing that every time, I immediately switched to the second question, which helped me remain detached from them, just observing them passing by without involving myself.

        I read today the mentioned book of Dr. Gary Weber, and I believe that you’ve already encapsulated the most important aspect of it in this article.

        Thanks!

        1. Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your experiences and realizations!

          The second question is indeed a great technique for not getting pulled into the possible labyrinths created by the first one.

          If you memorize all 30 of the questions Dr. Weber put together, even more interesting outcomes are almost certain to emerge for you. I shared my experiences with them in The Victorious Mind and am hoping soon to release a follow-up book.

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Anthony Metivier is the founder of the Magnetic Memory Method, a systematic, 21st century approach to memorizing foreign language vocabulary, names, music, poetry and more in ways that are easy, elegant, effective and fun.

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