Sustaining and Unwavering Attention

In these words of wisdom from Jon Kabat-Zinn, we learn that concentration is sustaining and unwavering attention. This lesson is from his widely read book, Wherever You Go, There You Are. He writes,

Jon Kabat-Zinn on 60 Minutes

Jon Kabat-Zinn on 60 Minutes, image captured from replay

“Concentration is a cornerstone of mindfulness practice. Your mindfulness will only be as robust as the capacity of your mind to be calm and stable.

“You can think of concentration as the capacity of the mind to sustain an unwavering attention on one object of observation. It is cultivated by attending to one thing, such as the breath, and just limiting one’s focus to that. In Sanskrit, concentration is called samadhi, or “onepointedness.” Samadhi is developed and deepened by continually bringing the attention back to the breath every time it wanders. When practicing strictly concentrative forms of meditation, we purposefully refrain from any efforts to inquire into areas such as where the mind went when it wandered off, or that the quality of the breath fluctuates. Our energy is directed solely toward experiencing this breath coming in, this breath going out, or some other single object of attention. With extended practice, the mind tends to become better and better at staying on the breath, or noticing even the earliest impulse to become distracted by something else, and either resisting its pull in the first place and staying on the breath, or quickly returning to it.”
~ Jon Kabat-Zinn from Wherever You Go, There You Are

Wherever You Go, There You Are is an instruction manual for people who are unable to attend an eight week course on Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), which is available in most major cities around the world. If you cannot find one near you, this book is a wonderful place to start.

What experience have you had with practicing samadhi? Please share.

Books by Jon-Kabat-Zinn

Wherever You Go, There You Are

Jon Kabat-Zinn

When Wherever You Go, There You Are was first published in 1994, no one could have predicted that the book would launch itself onto bestseller lists nationwide and sell over 750,000 copies to date. Ten years later, the book continues to change lives. In honor of the book’s 10th anniversary,… [Read More…]

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