Which Concentration Meditation is Best for You

Focused Awareness or Open Monitoring

Concentration meditation is based on two types of awareness. Focused awareness or Open Monitoring. In Focused Awareness one chooses a specific object to focus one’s attention on such as the breath, body, mantra, sound or visualization. Its value is that as one is focused on one object this tends to shut down the thinking mind and the Default Mode Network that leads to selfing. It also helps develop the capacity to be aware that is an essential part of mindfulness. This meditation practice can lead to a unified and concentrated mind that makes it easier to access insight or vipassana meditation.

The other form of concentration meditation is Open Monitoring. In this awareness practice there is no fixed object. One brings awareness to whatever one is conscious of. As we witness the constant changing flow of experience it illustrates the important teaching of impermanence. Conventionally our minds are so busy. We are constantly multi-tasking and thinking what we need to do next. The value of Open Monitoring Meditation is we are specifically creating the opportunity to develop awareness with how our thinking minds normally works, as opposed to focusing on a single object.

The problem with focused awareness is it can lead to drowsiness. If this is happening one could switch to the more energizing practice of open monitoring. The problem with open monitoring is that one can become overwhelmed with the multiplicity of stimuli. If one is becoming too scattered a focused awareness practice may help settle your mind down.

Initially it may be more advantageous to choose a focused awareness practice as one’s initial meditation. When you feel the mind has become stable this may allow one to more effectively practice open monitoring. One could do both types of practice in one setting or stay with one specific practice for as long as it works for you.

The key to this practice is to experiment and find what works best for you.

by Dr. Phil Blustein
Oct. 5, 2023