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The word 'concentrate' means to enrich, to make more rich in essence. This can be a very good thing. It can lead to significant refinement.
But it also refers to the process of focussing on one thing at the exclusion of all else.


Multi-tasking is the apparent simultaneous performance of two or more tasks by a computer's central processing unit. In other words, the computer seems to be doing two things at once.
Yet, the computer is not really performing two task at the same time. It is switching resources back and forth at high speed. But can a person do two things at the same time? Perhaps. But not well.

Single-tasking is better

Single-tasking is now considered to be far more productive and realistic.

The word seriousness is elaborated on by the saying "One aim with no distractions".

(Takuan Soho)

When to concentrate

Concentration is a specialist tool and should be employed sparingly. There are many situations in which it is important to concentrate. Such as learning qigong or tai chi form.
Other occasions would benefit from expansive awareness rather than concentration. Determining the appropriate application of concentration can improve learning and help you to narrow down options.


Our students focus upon one style of tai chi: the Yang approach. The partnered drills, neigong qualities and combat applications all serve to improve their understanding of the tai chi.
They are inspired by movements and themes found within the art.


As a consequence of this concentration, students find that their understanding of the art is thorough. They make connections and associations, they see patterns and strategies.
Insights emerge. Concentration enables a deeper level of focus.


Some beginners want to collect forms. Instead of learning one form thoroughly, they want to accumulate. As a consequence, superficial knowledge is sought, and the beginner never penetrates the art.
Collecting forms and drills is not a good thing. It leads to an attitude of flitting.

Monkey mind

The untrained mind becomes goal-oriented and skips around. By doing more, we accomplish less. Do not spread yourself too thinly.
Thinning our time and our attention leads to a watered-down outcome, rather than a richer one.

Unite the many

Neigong is all about uniting the disconnected body parts in order to move as one whole unit. Every action must be a single unified action. Concentration is essential.

If I concentrate while he divides, I can use my entire strength to attack a fraction of his.

(Sun Tzu)

Here and now

Sustaining your attention for the duration of one form is very good for your mind.  You stay present, in the here and now.
Your mind is on what you are doing and where you are. A meditative state of consciousness occurs.

Be patient

20 minutes of unbroken attention puts you in touch with your mind, your body, the movements, the energies being explored.
As your skill improves, your consciousness expands and you notice what is occurring around you.
Instead of deliberately concentrating on the tai chi, you are simply present. The art and everything else around you is part of the emergent moment.


Looking is focussed and narrow. Seeing is expansive and open. Meditation is the condition of being present, of seeing without impediment.
You are very much in the immediate moment: feeling, seeing, experiencing. There are no thoughts and no worries.
By seeing, you receive a greater amount of information and you can subconsciously process it quickly.


Looking is selective, choosing to see only what you have decided to see. This narrowing of attention is concentration, focus - and involves shutting out one thing in favour of another.
Looking is necessary when you want to be selective, but seeing expansively is preferable overall.


Concentration is the act of focussing. It is a narrowing of perspective. Extraneous distractions are blocked out and the attention is directed towards a limited target.
Keeping your mind on what you are doing is excellent. It improves quality. Sometimes, it is good to be distracted, to notice unexpected possibilities, to wander off in new directions.
However, there is a danger with distraction: the more distracted you become, the less competent you are.

He did each single thing as if he did nothing else.

(Charles Dickens)


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Page created 18 March 1997
Last updated 16 June 2023