Saturday, June 07, 2008


To Mr. Cevdet ACAR

This is the first of a series of my articles on the nature of human concentration. Actually, concntration is not an exclusive attribute of the human-being.

Concentration is an attribute of matter. Concentration is described as ‘the situation of coming together at one point.’ Concentric means ‘having a common centre.’

The meaning changes a bit when it comes to the concentration ability of the human mind. Merriam-Webster defines it as ‘direction of attention to a single object’. It is misinterpreted as focusing in the daily usage.

An easy way to understand, demonstrate and control the abilities of the human mind is to think visually. In terms of looking with our eyes, concentrating means to look at something and see other things only in relation to this reference point. To focus means to look at something and not see other things at all.

To focus means to limit your attention to a specific object(for ex. inclusion of something into attention). To concentrate means to change the character of your attention so that included thing appears in your focus on the basis of some sort of exclusion of others, so to speak.

It is possible to lose concentration but keep focus, when looking. You can relax your attention, but change the size of the area that you look at, for ex.a whole person or a face. This is important for implementing relaxed attention.

You may also increase your concentration but lose focus, if you like, a little bit more complex though. You may look at nothing specific, but enjoy fully the wide wiew on the coast of Istanbul Bosphorus.

Concentration and focusing abilities are not totally visual. These can be observed in all forms of perception, cognition, motor faculties. The embodiment of self, the sense of being is closely related with the sense of time. We feel our being, our existence at the moment we are in, namely ‘the specious present', or now.

The length of specious present changes, according to the situation we are in. Also, the frequency of the renewal of our sense of now or feeling one’s self or being changes. When we are doing something we do not feel our being directly all the time. In fact concentrating on the thing we do reduces the frequency of our feeling of self. This also reduces the sense of time. This frequency also corresponds to the perception frequency. When the perception frequency increases sensitivity increases.

The specious present concept is somewhat belaguered at this point. The specious present is a duration of perception, of which total duration is effected-determined by concentration.

Attention is an abstraction of focus. Attention determines the limits of things we deal with at one moment. If we deal with more than one thing the length of the moment expands, so the specious present increases.

This explains why with high concentration sometimes, we do not feel the time that passes and sometimes we do feel it longer than it really is. If we do a single simple thing with high concentration, specious present is short, so we do not feel the time, or feel it as if shorter. On the contrary, if we do a complex thing with high concentration we feel as if the time passed is much longer than it really is.

The specious present are the moments that we feel our being, self.The specious present are the times that the brain’s cognition works consciously. Healthy functioning of human mind depends on the average balance between the conscious and subconscious activities. For example, to understand a foreign language with facility, you should not concentrate too much but you should relax a little bit, so that the things you hear at the specious durations get processed between them by your subconscious.

Working on complex tasks with high concentration for long durations, causes us to develop skills that enable us keep our specious presents as long as possible, with the highest frequency. If one is not well equipped and trained to handle these skills, long duration high concentration complex jobs may suppress and hurt the human subconscious or increase the perception to the point of seeing-hearing halucinations. The suppression of subconscious may inevitably hurt the whole psychology and cause the human mind to react in a series of psychosis.

In order to avoid all this mess, you should simply apply the 20 20 20 rule while working. “Every 20 minutes, pause whatever you’re doing and stare at something 20 feet away about 10-15 paces away) for 20 seconds.”

The bottom line is, this type of jobs are one of many choices, you may choose to climb a high mountain or serve at an air traffic control center as an engineer or air traffic controller, or choose to serve as a surgeon. It is up to you.