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Is meditation and concentration mutually exclusive?

I've been having a tough time with my concentration and I was reading this article: How A Few Simple Things Helped Me Meditate Without Losing Concentration. I tried a few of the things mentioned on there and they seemed to helped, but as I was reading around more on other websites / blogs as well. 

What some people were saying is that meditation is the opposite of concentration and if you're concentrating then you're not meditating. That meditation is expanding the mind while concentration is narrowing it and that the two are mutually exclusive.

Lots of confusing stuff for someone who's relatively new to it. What do you guys think?



  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    It is tricky; I have seen the term 'Mindfulness' also interchanged with 'Awareness'.... so as for the term 'Concentration' being interchanged with 'Meditation' I think it's a question of etymological semantics.
    Some translations of the 8-Fold path use one term, while other translations, use the other, so I guess it's a case of Interpretation.

    I prefer to use Meditation, when referring to the state of stillness and sitting (although, of course, not ALL meditation is done this way) and Concentration, although accurate in its perspective, is something aligned with Effort.... which is in and of itself, another factor of the 8Fold Path.
    Bottom line?
    What you think matters. What your opinion is, and what your truth is for you, is all you need concern yourself with. Whatever conclusion YOU personally reach, is absolutely Right for you, at this time.
    If over a period, your perspective and opinion changes, that's ok too.
    In the end, it's a label. It's not what it is that matters, it's what you DO, for yourself, that counts.

    My few pence worth...

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Moderator

    There are a million different kinds of meditation. Anyone who says there is only one "right" way is simply incorrect. Some types of meditation focus. Some types expand awareness. Neither is right or wrong, and in fact IMO both are ideal. For someone just learning, concentration meditation is the easier way to learn. It is how you begin to slow your mind down in order to be able to expand anything at all.

  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran
    edited December 2016

    In a nutshell...

    Concentration = focus of ones attention
    Mindfulness = awareness of what is

    These two are parts of the Eightfold Path

    I'm reminded of the eight by the word "UTSALEMC"

    Right Understanding -Thought-Speech-Action-Livelihood-Effort-Mindfulness -Concentration

    @rubberlemon Perhaps this link may be of help "Samatha"

  • There are different types of meditation, with different goals. For example, some are about visualizing the Buddha or a deity or your healthy cells gobbling up your cancer cells and spitting them out. That requires developing an ability to "focus" (we won't call it "concentration") on an image. "Focus" means bringing your awareness back to the image when your awareness wanders and gets distracted by thoughts.

    Other types of meditation are about calming the mind (by focusing on the breath; see, there's that word "focus" again), and simply noticing what thoughts arise, and letting them go. Another style is about developing "calm abiding", where you sit with a calm blank mind. What all of these have in common, IMO, is the discipline to be able to calm the mind by first focusing on the breath, and then keeping the mind calm, not turbulent with a million thoughts.

  • What do you guys think?

    Hello welcome <3
    Outstanding answers already given.

    When I started, I had to focus. On sitting still, on a mantra, image or shape, yidam, candle flame (yogi meditation), the breath (very common focus in Buddhism), my chakras, my s l o w steps (walking meditation in Buddhism and Tai Chi) etc

    This is concentration.

    Now as I pretend to have disciplined my mind, I move more into awareness, mindfulness, Shikantaza, sky watching which my uncle used and watching paint dry (how exciting).

    Here is my page on meditation which might be helpful

  • BuddhadragonBuddhadragon Carpe Diem Samsara Veteran

    Right Mindfulness and Right Concentration are items number 7 and 8, respectively, of the Noble Eightfold Path.
    Along with Right Effort, they fall under the heading "Concentration," with the other two being "Wisdom" and "Morality."
    They are not mutually exclusive, but organically integrated in the whole.

  • Thanks for all the great responses here. I will continue to work on mindfulness meditation as that was what I wanted to start out in. Focusing on my breathing has been working great for me. I'll come back to concentration meditation one day.

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