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05 March 2015

The Key To Getting Concentrated

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by Mark Goddard

[groups_non_member group=”Registered”]If you think that meditation is just sitting on a cushion and looking and feeling relaxed then think again as there is much more to it than that, as I found out on a short silent retreat at Poulstone Court in Herefordshire.

For the first time, since I was living at home as a student, some 25+ years ago, I didn’t have to worry about anything – shelter, food, warmth, the timings of what I do and when I did it, and even better, no phone or email as I handed my phone in for the duration. All of this was taken care of by the AoM team. This really set the platform & environment for those on the course to be able to concentrate on what they had to do – which was, to concentrate.

 

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[/groups_non_member]
[groups_member group=”Registered”]If you think that meditation is just sitting on a cushion and looking and feeling relaxed then think again as there is much more to it than that, as I found out on a short silent retreat at Poulstone Court in Herefordshire.

For the first time, since I was living at home as a student, some 25+ years ago, I didn’t have to worry about anything – shelter, food, warmth, the timings of what I do and when I did it, and even better, no phone or email as I handed my phone in for the duration. All of this was taken care of by the AoM team. This really set the platform & environment for those on the course to be able to concentrate on what they had to do – which was, to concentrate.

Taking the vow of ‘noble silence’ was also a key aspect to this retreat. Having attended all sorts of courses during my adult life this was the first time I couldn’t speak to or discuss the course with my fellow students, in fact I left not really knowing who they were, why they were there, or anything about them, but oddly enough none of this mattered. Initially, ‘no chat’ was strange but it meant that time between meditations & discourses could and was used for reflection on what I did rather than the idle gossip that eventually ensues on such courses and on a short course such as this it meant we used the time we had as effectively and wholly as possible to progress in the Art of Meditation.

The course was a mix of meditating, discourses or teachings, and exercise in the form of Chi Kung & Yoga classes to begin to unlock the previously blocked energy channels within our bodies.
I had arrived with some idea of what I should be doing, but in practice was struggling to do, that is, to get a level of concentration without my mind wandering to, well, anything I could possibly think of without being happily settled with me. As the course progressed, our teacher guided us along this new path of learning about meditation and ourselves and I was amazed at how quickly that I could get concentrated. Ok, it wasn’t all plain sailing and I did lose concentration quite a number of times but now I could put these meanderings to one side and get concentrated again, rather than get annoyed and give up.

I had researched meditation, read around the subject, bought books on mindfulness and even read Burgs books & articles on the AOM website, all of which furthered my knowledge but none of it had helped me to concentrate properly. To do this, most of us will need a skilled teacher to help us navigate the tricky shallows when starting a meditative practice. Someone to point out that like any journey it will have its up’s and down’s and someone to steer you back on course and remind you where you started and how far you have come – luckily we had just that person in Burgs.

I achieved my objective of being able to gain some concentration, and a little more, as we took our new concentration skills and applied them. So, now I have given myself a chance to feel the benefits that meditators for centuries have reported gaining, and just as remarkably I did this without a single thought to the 300 emails I would be going back to when I got my phone back.

So, if you want to sit on a cushion and look and feel relaxed you can, there is nothing wrong in that. But if you want to learn to meditate, then it’s time to book yourself on one of Burgs’ courses. The right teacher with the right skills and knowledge in the right environment will mean that you will open your eyes, your energy channels and your mind to what meditation is really about.[/groups_member]

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