June 10, 2021
If you will consider pranayama as mere breathing exercises, you will find that the condition of your lungs is helped and nothing more. There have been great spiritual masters in India who have roundly criticized, if not exactly condemned, yoga postures — laughed at them as a silly waste of time — but even they approved and practiced pranayama so we conclude that pranayama has a spiritual value beyond the mere physical and physiological one. The mind is enabled by the practice of pranayama to go on to the practice of concentration and meditation.
Concentration is a focusing of the attention in such a way that the mind does not wander in all directions. It is, as it were, bound to the object of attention.
We may use a mantra to focus attention. I tell myself that all I wanted to do is to repeat the mantra. I give the mind the instruction, “Hold on to this." For those of you attending meditation classes, it would be interesting to watch how few seconds of the attention can remain focused without wandering. After 20 or 30 seconds, the attention is gone – no one knows how. So one tries to limit it to a particular focal point. That is concentration.