In addition to helping improve your overall focus and concentration, the Concentration Exercise can be used a pre-meditation exercise. Helping to prepare your mind so that you can meditate more effectively after having practiced it awhile. It can branch out into various visualization exercises, but it is initially taught as follows:
Close your eyes, and visualize a number in your mind. 50 is a good place to start, but some may want to start with 20. The goal is to count backwards in your mind, seeing each number clearly before going on to the next number. You can think of the number being up on a movie screen. Take notice how often you lose track, or you may even start again when you do to challenge yourself. See how many attempts it takes to get to zero without losing track.
When you reach zero, you are finished with the exercise and may just continue to sit quietly until it becomes uncomfortable. How long? That depends on you. If it is causing stress, then it is too long.
It is interesting to note how the Concentration Exercise naturally leads one to focus on the third eye point. As you visualize, it is as if you are creating a mental screen where you are seeing the numbers.
After you can consistently count down from 50 to zero without losing track, raise the bar by starting with a higher number. Next time try beginning with 75 or 100. Keep working your way from a higher number down to zero. You should not be counting too quickly. Counting back from 300 should take you about 15 minutes, give or take a few minutes.
Over time, as your ability to focus and concentrate on the numbers without losing track increases, you should find it easier to stay on your focal point during meditation practice. Added bonus: you will find your ability concentrate at work and home will also improve.
Remember, as with all training and exercises, consistency is key. Just keep at it and you’ll get there.