As part of the Renaissance online journal’s September 2023 theme Concentration of Focus (Click Here for Renaissance ), a webinar was organised by the Renaissance team on 25th September, 2023. The webinar titled ‘Concentration and Progress’ presented diverse perspectives from 5 invited speakers. The session was moderated by Dr. Beloo Mehra, Editor, Renaissance and Narendra Murty, Author and Renaissance Volunteer.
Through some insightful and practical sharing, our invited speakers led us to an exploration covering a wide spectrum of topics including concentration at workplace, how to facilitate development of concentration in children, using art to develop greater focus and concentration, value of single-pointed will, how to practice deep focus when pursuing a work, and more.
After a brief introduction to the topic by Dr. Mehra, the first speaker, Dr. Arpan Yagnik was invited to share his thoughts. Dr. Yagnik is an award-winning internationally renowned expert in Creativity enhancement, Professor at Penn State University, USA and a highly published author and TedX speaker.
Dr. Yagnik spoke about an interesting experiment that he conducted with his students about drawing a giraffe where he imposed several conditions and how meeting those conditions affected the drawings. He also drew interesting parallels between a plantation (concentration) and a jungle (diffusion). He stressed the importance of self-assessment, knowing our strengths and weaknesses before we set out to concentrate on something. He also reminded of the need to remember the enthusiasm as to what made us concentrate on a thing in the first place so that we never lose sight of our original objective.
One of the participants raised the matter of external disturbances that affect our concentration which brought into consideration the matter of being aware of the external environment as well which may have a bearing on our concentration.
The next speaker was Dr. Shraddha Gour Mohanti, and educator with several decades of experience. She is also serving as an academic co-ordinator in a reputed school and is seeker on the path of Integral Yoga, especially through work in Integral Education.
Dr. Mohanti stated that through her experience as a teacher, she is convinced that cultivating the habit of concentration and practicing it must become part of the school’s regular curriculum. According to her Focus is the starting point of concentration and it is a gathering of energies. She said that if students were taught to love their learning process and go deeper into a topic, then concentration could also develop in a more natural way. She emphasised that Concentration cannot be taught as a concept but has to be practiced using various exercises. She shared a few examples from her classroom practice.
The next two speakers Egle J. Raie Dey and Monica Chand brought up the topic of using art as means to develop concentration. Egle J Raie Dey has more than 30 years of expertise in Art & Design, both as an artist and art educator. Together with Monica Chand, she is the co-founder of YogArt. Monica Chand is a certified Hathayoga teacher and has taught Asana and Pranayama at national and international levels. She is deeply interested in exploring art as a yogic discipline and joined hands with Egle J. Raie Dey to start YogArt about which they shared at the webinar.
Raie and Monica briefly described their work which may be spoken of as “Yoga through Art” and “Art through Yoga.” They shared their experience as to how Art came to the rescue of their children who were having a difficult time during the lockdown. When the body, energies and the mind are aligned in a particular way, then concentration is achieved. They gave a taste of the activities they conduct during their workshops by guiding the webinar participants through a series of simple stretching and breath exercises and a drawing activity involving a paper, pencil and coin as an exercise in concentration. They also shared a small video giving a quick snippet of the kind of work they do at YogArt.
Raamkumar, member of Renaissance team was the next speaker. Raamkumar is also a volunteer at Auroville, and is the curator & facilitator of Deep Focus Circle – a space designed to facilitate deepening one’s concentration.
Raamkumar stated that Attention precedes Concentration. He also stressed the importance of Intention. Sharing a few details regarding the Deep Focus Circle which has been designed by him, he emphasised the significance of having accountability for what we are doing, prioritising what is important, and staying away from gadgets such as mobile when concentrating on work that we prioritise etc.
One of the participants raised some points regarding the connection between concentration and interest and why early morning hours seem to be more conducive for concentration. The panelists took up this matter and offered important insights. During this discussion, Narendra Murty
also shared some of the essential points from his article published in the current issue of Renaissance, concerning concentration of will.
It was a very lively discussion where the invited speakers and participants contributed with their perspectives and insights on this very important subject. The session went on for 2 hours 20 minutes, holding the attention of all which in itself was a test for Concentration! Overall, the webinar was a grand success.
Watch the recording of the webinar HERE.