Namaste, I am Kanika Ayurveda physician and today let’s see what is concentration and what is the hidden factor behind the lack of concentration.
According to Ayurveda, there are three factors to understand anything.
Dhi means grasping.
Dhriti means retention and Smriti means memory.
Out of all these three steps – Dhi or grasping is a factor to concentration because you cannot understand anything or internalize it when you are not focused.
What is Concentration?
The word “concentration” in Sanskrit means ekagrata and this word has a very beautiful meaning. It has two words in it – Ek means one and Agra means front.
That means if you want to concentrate on anything you should have a single front, you should have a single focus, just like an arrow
Let’s take the example of light, when it is diffused, it has no power. But the same light, when amplified into the same wavelength, becomes a laser. And this laser can cut the hardest of the things in the world, it can cut even diamonds.
And this is what we can do with our thought process. If we can aline our thoughts in one single direction just like a magnet, we can have a laser-sharp concentration
But normally we do not have that. Normally we have lots of thoughts running in our minds but why do we have so many thoughts running in our minds?
Here, We can find a hidden but the most crucial reason for lack of concentration which is stress.
The Hidden Cause Behind Low Concentration
According to multiple scientific researches, stress is the single biggest factor that can cause a loss in sustainable concentration and this is because stress can actually damage our brain cells which can help us to focus and concentrate. let’s see how
The Stress Hormone
We have a special stress hormone inside our body – serum cortisol and whenever we are stressed, the level of this hormone increases in the blood. What this hormone does is to suppress all normal body functions and prepare our body for emergency conditions. You see, this hormone can hinder the maturation process of neurons and when the neurons do not mature properly then you definitely will have less cells to concentrate with.
Let’s see what serum cortisol does to the brain cells.
Stress hinders making of new brain cells
There are a lot of stem cells inside the brain and these cells mature into two kinds of cells – neurons and axons.
Neurons are the main functioning cells that process the information and axons are the like.
You know, we can compare neurons to the computer and axons are the wires of the computer. So in the brain, we have two kinds of things – we have computers and the wires connecting the computer.
Under the stress hormone, most of the stem cells mature not into neurons but into axons.
So, if you are stressed you will have more wires inside your brain than the computers and definitely it will lead to lower concentration, lower learning ability, and loss of memory as well.
And it does not happen only in infancy. This is a myth which has been busted by recent scientific experiment. You can develop immature neurons even as an adult.
Stress makes body environment unsuitable for normal brain functioning
Chronic stress makes us more prone to anxiety, mood swings, and these mood swings and anxiety result in low concentration.
Stress hormone affects all the systems in the body – the digestive system, excretory system, skin, everywhere.
It is very important to note that no single organ or system works inside the body as a single separate entity.
Everything is connected and therefore neurons very much depend on the good performance of the digestive system, excretory system, immunity and so one and so forth.
When you are stressed, when your body is under the effect of stress hormone all these systems,
all the systems of the body are suppressed. So you will not have good digestion, you will not be able to absorb proper nutrition, you will have a build-up of toxins in your body because the excretory system is not functioning properly
; and all this builds up into early cell death, early neuron that in the body. This makes of an environment in which neurons cannot function properly and therefore low concentration.
Stress triggers early cell death
Stress can trigger another very important process in the body – cell oxidation. Cell oxidation is a natural process by which the body removes old and aging.
However, if the rate of cell oxidation is accelerated then even the new cells will start to die and this is what happens under stress.
Stress already has led to immature neuron growth in the body, but on the other hand, it also kills the neurons which already there and functioning.
And therefore, stress causes lack of concentration in two ways, first of all, it hinders the maturation of neurons which are capable of concentration and on the other hand, it kills neurons, it induces early death in neuron because of oxidative stress.
Besides, it produces an overall environment in which the neurons cannot function properly.
Chronic stress does not affect only concentration. In the long run, it can also cause severe mental disorders like Alzheimer’s, dementia, Parkinson’s, and so on.
Unfortunately, even infants are stressed today. According to many scientific studies, high levels of stress during pregnancy can lead to concentration-related disorders in children like ADHD.
Ayurveda on Stress
Now let’s see what Ayurveda says about stress. According to Ayurveda, the mind is the source of the body. So, everything basically emerges from the mind. It is like a projector and the body is the projection of the mind.
According to Ayurveda, there three mental patterns – Sattva or balance, Raja or hyperactivity, and Tamas or inactivity.
When mind undergoes Rajo guna then it becomes hyperactive and this hyperactivity descends to the physical body
One subtype of vata dosha -prana vayu controls intelligence.
Negative emotions like mental unrest or stress (anavasthit chitta), anxiety (chinta), fear (bhaya) can lead to an imbalance in vata dosha.
This imbalanced vata dosha in-turn contributes to a lack of concentration.
Vata has a wasting effect on the body and as the previous studies reflect, an imbalance in vata dosha leads to gradual wasting all over the body including the neurons.
So, the low rate of maturation or the early wasting effect of neurons is basically a result of mental hyperactivity or stress.
In this context, it becomes very important to note that stress causes neurodegeneration and this neurodegeneration leads to lack of concentration.
So, basically, the mind affects the body, and the body in turn leads to another effect on the mind. This may become a vicious cycle because low concentration can trigger more stress in a person which in turn will lead to even lower levels of concentration.
And therefore, we see that stress is the basic, the most fundamental cause for lack of concentration. It’s not anything else. According to Ayurveda, the permanent cure for any disease lies in the removal of the cause.
Without removing the cause, you can actually never reach a permanent state of health and this applies to the lack of concentration as well,
because if you have lack of concentration and if you do not remove the fundamentals factor stress behind this lack of concentration then you will never reach a permanent level of high concentrations
And this is the reason why most of the medicines whether they are allopathic or Ayurvedic, fail to have any permanent result in case of low concentration because the problem is not physical.
It is mental and no mental problem can be treated by a physical solution.
But there are ways to achieve concentration.
And there are two ways to achieve anything – The right one and the wrong one and the same goes for concentration as well.
You can be the highly focused when you are in a natural, peaceful state of mind
or when a mad dog chasing you.
So, a highly relaxed state of mind or a mind in the emergency mode, both result in the same thing – high levels of concentration.
However, their effects on the body are very different.
In the coming videos, let’s explore what are some of the methods to achieve concentration and what are their effects on the body.
Till then, namaste and thank you for reading!
Relevant Scientific Research Links
Chronic stress has the ability to flip a switch in stem cells that turns them into a type of cell that inhibits connections to the prefrontal cortex, which would improve learning and memory, but lays down a durable scaffolding linked to anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder. https://bit.ly/chronicstressstudy
The Stress Hormone
Stress in Pregnancy
My Article on Stress