Struggling to concentrate? What steps can you take? What are you actually focusing on?
A'udhu billahi samiul alim min ash-Shaytan ar-Rajim. Bismillah Al-Rahman Al-Rahim. Was sallallahu 'alaa Sayyidina Muhammad wa 'alaa alihi at-tayyibeen, at-tahireen.
So the question that we want to address today is how do we concentrate or how do we increase our concentration in prayer?
Because, as a community, we pray five times daily and we also have many other prayers and supplications and other things like that. And it is important for us to feel a connection to that worship, a connection to those prayers and a connection to those supplications. And because we have obligatory worships, sometimes we might feel that we go through the motions rather than actually get to grips with what we are doing in prayer. And going through the motions is kind of like sometimes on being on autopilot where we just pray because we have to within a certain period of time and then we continue with the rest of our lives. But as we do that, there is a kind of feeling of distance, a feeling of wanting to do better.
And so this question comes to us that how do we increase our concentration and thereby also increase our benefit of the daily prayers that we pray, as well as the other supplications and superogatory prayers.
So there are a few things, a few steps, things that have been recommended generally in order to increase our concentration. The first thing is to give time when we feel like we have something to do straightaway afterwards or when we are under some kind of time pressure. It is harder for us to focus on the task that we have at hand, which is praying. So we need to give an appropriate amount of time to the prayers so that we are not rushing through them.
I remember one of my friends told me a story about once how somebody cracked an egg in order to fry it and then went to pray their Fajr at the same time. So obviously the time pressure of having to flip the egg was such that they weren't able to concentrate on their prayers. So if we do not give enough time to pray, and here, I am not talking about an excessive amount of time, I am saying an allocated time so that you do not have anything else that you must be doing at the same time as praying. So that is the first thing to do, to give yourself time and to not have to do something within that same time.
The second thing, especially in the beginning, where it is hard to focus and the surroundings are problematic, is that a person should try and find a secluded or a quiet place somewhere where they can distance themselves from the kind of sensory absorption that they have in the world usually. So many people do this by having a dedicated prayer space or area or, for example, praying when praying in places where it is not busy. And of course, this is also something that can be understood from the traditions as well, explaining to us that we should not pray in front of a door, for example, and other traditions like that. So the second thing is to have a place where you can pray in peace, and of course as our concentration increases, this becomes less of a requirement, we will be able to concentrate within difficult surroundings as well.
The third thing that I want to mention in this video, there are other things as well about other tips, if you like to concentrate. But I think perhaps one of the most important things to think about is what we are actually concentrating on. There is in our daily lives times where we have to concentrate on a task at hand and we find ourselves able to concentrate, and that is because we are focused on something specific. So, for example, if you are playing a video game and there is a part of the video game that you have tried three or four times and you can not get through it, then all of a sudden you are able to concentrate very specifically on that part of the game such that you can not really, you are not really disturbed by what is around you.
OK, or, for example, if there is an important task that we have a deadline for, then again, we will make sure that we absolutely do that task within that time that we have before the deadline. So what are we concentrating on when we concentrate in prayer? Well, some of the mystics have advised that we generally increase our concentration on anything. If we are able to generally increase our concentration span, then we will be able to concentrate on our prayers.
But again, the question here is, what do we focus on? What do we actually put our concentration on? Some have said that you should concentrate on the signs of Allah Subhanah wa Ta a'ala. So, for example, you concentrate on the heavens and the earth and the beautiful manifestations of Allah, Subhanah wa Ta a'ala. And some mystics have gone further to say that you concentrate on the reality of the Prophet, sallal-lahu alayhi wa alihi wa sallam, who is the greatest manifestation, or the greatest creation of Allah, Subhanah wa Ta a'ala.
And what that also encompasses is the concentration of the connection that you have with Allah, Subhanah wa Ta a'ala. So what to concentrate on? Concentrate on the connection, concentrate on that feeling that you have within you of connection with Allah, Subhanah wa Ta a'ala. If you like the godly feeling within you. And concentrating on that feeling is very similar to those games that you have where you have a kind of metal maze and you have one of those hoops and you have to go around around the maze.
Concentrating and maintaining your concentration on that connection is such that it does require your focus. And so this helps us if we know what we are concentrating on, this will help us to increase our concentration in prayer, insha'Alllah!
Was sallallahu 'alaa Sayyidina Muhammad wa 'alaa alihi at-tayyibeen, at-tahireen.