- Concentration in Prayer
- Introduction And Acknowledgments
- Author’s Biography
- Part 1 : Introduction to Prayer
- Part 2 : Strategies for Concentrating In Prayer
- Strategy 8: Continued Cleanliness
- Strategy 22: Remembrance Of Death
- Part 3 : Conclusion
- Part 4 : Learning to Focus and Concentrate on your Daily Prayer A Complete 30-Day Workbook
- Part 8 : Figure Four
- All Pages
An important and attractive aspect of Islamic teaching is related to cleanliness. It means to be ritually pure at all times by performing ablution (wudhu) and ghusl (major ablution) whenever necessary. The major ablution (ghusl) on Friday, for example, has been much stressed and cleans your soul from many sins. By keeping yourself clean and pure, you make it difficult for Shaytan to enter your soul. Cleanliness is a barrier preventing lustful ideas and disruptive thoughts from entering your mind during Prayer. One of the traditions of The Prophet (S), which has come down in the form of an everlasting proverb is that,Cleanliness is part of faith, and faith leads a person to Paradise.
It is, therefore, a good idea to brush your teeth, perfume yourself, and observe some kind of uniform, preferably white, and stand in-front of Allah (SWT), fresh and clean. Cleanliness is a weapon of a believer and evokes inner enlightenment.
This part of your Prayer may involve any of the following elements: always wearing a clean white dress during Prayer, applying perfume, burning incense, using a clean Prayer mat and tidy Prayer room, seeking forgiveness before Prayer, and so forth. All the above-mentioned elements create a healthier and spiritual environment for Prayer.
Strategy 9: Seeking Forgiveness And Accepting Limitatons
After every Prayer you should seek forgiveness, as this will indirectly increase your attention and concentration during Prayer and bring you nearer to Him. While reciting this invocation, you should sincerely repent to Allah (SWT) that the Prayer you just finished was not up to the required standards and pray to be forgiven for it by The Merciful Lord. Then, you return to Him promising that the next Prayer will be a better one. This process in itself is a motivation to perform better next time you stand before the Almighty. Accepting faults will create in you desire to perform even better.
Strategy 10: Trust
It is said that The Commander of the Faithful, ‘Ali (AS) used to writhe and tremble when it was time for the Prayer. Asked once about his uncommon state, he said:
The time has come for the trust which Allah, The Exalted, offered to the heavens, the earth and the mountains, but they refused to carry it and were afraid of it.
(Mustadrak al-Wasa’il, Book of Prayer, Chapter 2, Tradition 14)
This is in direct reference to the following verse of The Qur’an:
Verily, We offered the trust to the Heavens, the earth and the mountains, but they refused to bear it, and were afraid thereof, and man undertook it. Verily he was (proved) unjust, ignorant. (Qur’an - Chapter 33, Verse 72)
Whenever The Infallible (AS) used to stand before Allah (SWT) in Prayer, their limbs trembled, and because of the intensity of fear, even the number of their breaths could be counted. They used to become restless as if bitten by a snake, and Prayer was offered as though there would never be another chance to offer another Prayer.
Muhammad, son of Ya’qub, quoting al-Sadiq (AS) in Furu’ al-Kafi, Volume 3, Page 300, Tradition 4 says:
My father used to say, when ‘Ali, son of al-Husayn (AS) used to stand for the Prayer, he looked like a trunk of a tree, nothing of which would move unless the wind would move it.
In al-’Ilal, Aban ibn Taghlib, quoting Muhammad, son of ‘Ali ibn al-Husayn:
I said to al-Sadiq (AS): ‘I noticed that when ‘Ali, son of al-Husayn (AS) stood for the Prayer, his color changed.’ He said to me: By Allah (SWT), ‘Ali ibn al-Husayn knew before whom he was standing.
(Wasa’il al-Shi’ah, Volume 4, Page 685, Chapter 2, Tradition 4)
This is an excellent precedent for us from The Infallible (AS) whose every word and action were in accordance with the pleasure of The Almighty. It is truly meritorious to be able to convince yourself that the Prayer you will be offering may be your last one and that you may not have a chance to say another Prayer. This behavior can be maintained only in pious people, and piety and the fear of Allah (SWT) are the two qualities you should endeavor to possess.
In ‘Uddatud-Da`i, it is stated:
The imploring moaning of Ibrahim (AS) used to be heard from a mile’s distance, such that Allah (SWT) praised him by saying: ‘Ibrahim was mild, imploring, penitent’.
When performing his Prayer, a sound of fizz like that of a boiler was heard coming from his chest. A similar sound was also heard from the chest of our Prophet (S). Fatimah (AS) used to pant in the Prayer because of her fear of Allah (SWT).
(Mustadrak al-Wasa’il, Chapter 2, Tradition 15)
Strategy 11: Stress Management
Of the important cordial disciplines of worship, especially the invoking worship, one is tranquillity, which is not the same tranquillity as demanded by the Scholars of Fiqh (Allah be pleased with them) in the Prayer. It is that the person who prays should perform his worship with quietude of the heart and a tranquillity of the mind. This is because if the worship were performed in a state of anxiety and with shaky heart, the heart would not have any reaction. Thus, no effects of worship would appear in the dominion of the heart, and the reality of the worship would not become an inner image of the heart.
(al-Khomeini, The Disciplines of Prayer)
Your body responds to all kinds of stress by trying to get back to a normal physiological state. Depending on the stress agent, hormones like adrenaline, may surge. Your heartbeat and blood pressure will probably increase. Your blood sugar rises. Besides many health problems related to stress, from high blood pressure to asthma, significant overload is noticed in the brain, and with such a mind, one can hardly say his or her Prayer with concentration.
Less stress will bring much more happiness into your life and more vigilance in your Prayer. The stress you accumulate, as a result of your reaction to everyday events, bred by various anxieties, creates a barrier to your happiness and normal living.
No one can cause you to become stressful. Only those insecurities and deep-seated anxieties can cause you to react irrationally to events in your life and lead to stress. Once this is relieved, your interpersonal relationships will improve, as you emanate warmth from being at peace with yourself.
Once stress has been dissipated through an effective meditation and relaxation exercise, your view of the world becomes much more pleasant. This way the brain is also relieved of the pressure from the overload and you are able to concentrate in your Prayer. It is therefore recommended that you exercise, meditate and relax, employing deep breathing strategies before resting at night and in the early morning hours.
Take time for yourself to relax each day; exercise regularly after getting your doctor’s okay; learn to let go of things which are outside your control; learn to adapt to changes; learn to take action when you can make a difference; avoid excessive caffeine, fats, and sugar; don’t smoke; go away for the weekend, and give your time to something or someone you believe in.
Strategy 12: Senseless Conversations
Let it be known that,
There is no worship superior than silence…
It has been recorded that,
Silence is part of wisdom. It is a sign of every virtue. It is the way of the devotees of Allah (SWT), because Allah (SWT) likes it. It is the style of The Prophets (AS), and the habit of the chosen people.
According to traditions, all the organs in your body are safeguarded when your tongue is protected. However, in many cases, silence is strenuous to practice but very fruitful in the end. By maintaining silence and pondering over every sentence you speak, you would hardly commit yourself to speculation, backbiting, pride, mockery, lying, etc. This way, you have less to think about and less thoughts to interrupt you in your Daily Prayer.
You should try and protect the organs of your body from disobedient actions, as they would invite Allah (SWT)’s displeasure. The scholars have said, ‘One’s speech should always be in remembrance of Allah (SWT), one’s silence should be an effort to think and contemplate, and one’s vision should be for deriving a lesson’.
It will only add to your disadvantage if you involve yourself in careless and purposeless conversations, as you increase the chances of losing the train of your thought in your Prayer. The more careless you are with the tongue, the more defensive you’ll have to be, and Shaytan will not lose this opportunity to remind you of your inaccuracies and feelings of guilt during Prayer. You should be careful of your tongue at all times and employ it in earning only the pleasure of Allah (SWT).
Imam ‘Ali (AS), The Master of Believers, once exclaimed to an individual who was chattering away and admonished him that,
O’ Man! You are dictating to your angel a letter to Allah (SWT), so speak what concerns you and omit that which does not concern you.
The celebrated mystic of our time, the great al-Taba Tabai (RA) concludes the following, after years of struggle in his quest for attaining spiritual perfection:
I have witnessed the most precious effects of silence. Practicing silence for forty days and nights, speaking only when it is absolutely required and remaining occupied in meditation and invocation until attaining purity and enlightenment.
Strategy 13: Moderation In Eating
Eating and drinking is also one of those matters with regard to which people go to extremes and, of course, mostly towards excess. No doubt, you need food to live and it is necessary that food should reach the cells of your body to maintain life. However, the important question is how much food your body needs and whether excessive food is good or harmful.
al-Ridha (AS) says:
You should know that a human body is like fertile land. If moderation is exercised in the matter of its development, i.e. necessary quantity of water is provided to it, which should neither be so excessive as to drown it and change into swamp and bog, nor so scanty that it should remain thirsty and dry, such land yields much produce. However, the land will become barren if not properly looked after.
Therefore, over-eating is a major cause of inattention in Prayer, and one needs to take care of this problem five times a day before every Prayer. Luqman Hakim once said to his beloved son:
Dear son! When the stomach is full your faculty of thinking goes to sleep, and your tongue of wisdom becomes dumb and your limbs fail to worship Allah (SWT).
Strategy 14: Checking And Inspection
Keep track of the level of your attention and concentration in Prayer. If it is the right level, give thanks; if wrong, ask for forgiveness.
Self-conditioning, contemplation and self-examination are essential pre-requisites for a seeker of truth who is battling with his self. Self-conditioning or stipulation means binding oneself with the resolution not to do anything against God’s commands.
al-Khomeini (RA) advises you to specifically be in this state of mind at night, the time for introspection and inner deliberation, and evaluate your deeds of the whole day. This is the time to see whether you have been honest to the Giver of all, to whom everybody is accountable. If you have been faithful to Him, you should be thankful to Him that He has made you successful in your intentions. Furthermore, Shaytan and his accursed legions may magnify the volume of the task in your eyes, but these are the guile played by the cheat. You should always curse, and drive away the devil and evil thoughts from within the depths of your heart and the domain of your mind.
Reviewing your performance on the Daily Prayer should be part of the contemplation you employ every night, to be able to scan through all the problems and suggest possible solutions. Thus, the next Prayer is significantly different from the previous one. Please refer the 30-Day Workbook for more details.
Strategy 15: Putting Thoughts In Writing
Unfortunately, in any relaxed state and in particular the Prayer, it is only human to have numerous creative thoughts, as well as recollections of things you forgot or need to do. These thoughts may haunt your continued meditation if you don’t write them down.
It has been advised by great scholars to write these thoughts down on a piece of paper so you may free your mind to concentrate on the Prayer. You can then more easily continue without clinging to thoughts you fear you might forget. You will be bringing your conscious and subconscious mind closer together and this will yield much useful information and ideas you will want to pursue upon completion of your Prayer. Please refer the 30-Day Workbook for more details.
Strategy 16: Removing Obstacles
Also, before the Prayer, all obstacles in attaining heart’s presence must be removed. As such, you should relieve yourself before starting Prayer, and you should satisfy your hunger or thirst as well. Also, since over-eating creates a lack of attention and concentration, you should observe moderation if you have to eat before Prayer.
Drinking a full glass of water is recommended before Prayer. A campaign has been launched in several schools in the United Kingdom to encourage children to drink more water to increase their concentration. Studies have found that children who are dehydrated do not work as well in the classroom as those who have drunk the recommended eight glasses of water a day. All brain activity is neurological and is a chemical activity which doesn't function without water
If you are busy investigating something or you are disturbed and agitated about a particular event, you should try within the bounds of possibilities, to eliminate the causes of the worry before Prayer. Think it, and work it out before you stand in front of the Almighty. This way you appear before Allah (SWT) secured and free from insecurities of life.
The cloth you wear during Prayer may also be an obstacle if it is tight, or very loose and uncomfortable. To avoid such instances, proper attire to one’s liking is recommended at all times. The following tradition gives us an idea of what could transpire in Prayer and what one is supposed to do to maintain the concentration in his Prayer.
al-Khomeini (RA) reports from Shaykh Muhammad, son of al-Hasan (al-Tusi – RA) reporting in al-Tahdhib with his trustworthy narratorsleading to Abu Hamzah al-Thumali RA), that he said:
I saw ‘Ali, son of al-Husayn (al-Sajjad (AS) offering Prayer, when the cloak slipped from his shoulders. The Imam did not arrange it until he had finished his Prayer. When I questioned him about it, he said:
‘Woe to you, don’t you know before whom I stood? Nothing is accepted of a devotee’s Prayer except what he offers with the proper attention of his heart’.
Thereupon I said to him, ‘May I be ransomed for you, (if that is so) then we (i.e. the like of us) are doomed!’ He replied, ‘No indeed. Verily God compensates for that for the faithful by the means of supererogatory Prayers’.
(al-Hurr al-`Amili, Wasa’iI al-Shi'ah, iv, 688)
Strategy 17: Grief-Stricken, Submission And Sadness
No doubt, sadness brings to your soul many benefits, one of which is a revolution of the soul. It is the time when you are sad and grief-stricken, that you are able to fully organize and empower yourself to be most attentive in Prayer. It is widely accepted that a sad mind is more attuned towards an objective (Allah (SWT), in this case) and more capable of maintaining a high level of attention and concentration.
There shouldn’t be any problem practicing this kind of emotion before Prayer, since you have to warn yourself of the following, ‘You have no way of knowing that your past sins have been forgiven; no way of knowing that you will refrain from committing sins in the future; no way of knowing that your actions win the pleasure of Allah (SWT)…’
The Prophet (S) puts this all clearly by saying to Abu Dhar (RA):
O’ Abu Dhar! Allah (SWT) has not been worshipped with anything like that of length of grief.
O’ Abu Dhar! Whoever is given knowledge which doesn’t cause him to cry simply because he has been given knowledge, it will not benefit him. Allah (SWT) has described the learned and said:
Surely those who were given knowledge before it, when it is recited unto them they fall upon their faces in prostration and they say, ‘Glory be to our Lord! Surely the promise of Allah (SWT) shall take place’. They fall on their faces crying and they become increasingly humble.
At this juncture, it should be made clear that crying and shedding tears for personal reasons during Prayer will make your Prayer null and void.
Strategy 18: Patience, Accepting Fault, And Addressing The Problem To Allah (SWT)
You should be patient with your practice of attention. You do not perform masterfully the first time in any given circumstance. It is the continued practice of meditation, relaxation and attention that reaps benefits. You should not expect specific benefits in a short period of time. Invoking Allah (SWT) and addressing your problem of inattention is a good practice, as He would definitely assist you in this matter.
Patience is vital when we have to perform obedient acts for the love of Allah (SWT), the Great. As He has said:
Indeed, you will not get what I possess, but being patient with those things, which you don’t like (but you still do) in order to seek My pleasure. Patience on My obedience is easier for you than patience in the Fire of Hell.
Whenever you intend to perform a good deed, Shaytan is there instantly to persuade you not to do it. He may practice tricks on you and convince you not to do the deed, but you have to be careful. You should be able to identify these tricks and discard them. Diagnosing his entrance to your soul is an effective way to solve this issue. And if Shaytan is not successful in convincing you not to do a particular obedient act then he will try his level best to make you do it quickly and with the least of concentration.
What a difference between us and those obedient servants of Allah (SWT) who welcome acts of worship, attend to them with pleasure and fulfill them efficiently. We think that Allah (SWT) Almighty has burdened us with duties, consider them troublesome and view them as a burden. This is surely not so.
al-Khomeini (RA) reports that Patience is of 3 kinds:
Patience at the time of Affliction; Patience in regard to Obedience; Patience in regard to Disobedience.
One who bears patiently with affliction, resisting it with a fair consolation, Allah (SWT) uplifts him 300 degrees, the elevation of one degree over another being like the distance between earth and heavens.
And one who is patient in regard to obedience, Allah (SWT) uplifts him 600 degrees, the elevation of one degree over another being like the distance between the earth’s depths and The Throne.
And one who is patient in regard to disobedience, Allah (SWT) uplifts him 900 degrees, the elevation of one degree over another being like the distance between the earth’s depths and the furthest frontiers of The Throne.
Strategy 19: Fasting
al-Khomeini (RA) reports a tradition that there was once a person who was in great misfortune. He had nothing to eat and neither was he invited for a meal on that strenuous day. He thus decided to visit one of the houses of Allah (SWT) (i.e. a mosque) and declare his poverty in front of his Lord. It is reported that he passed the whole night in hunger and his invocation was not answered. The next day The Prophet (S) was informed of the situation. He (S), at that very moment, was blessed with a revelation from the Almighty that:
Tell our guest that We were his Host last night and wanted to provide him with sumptuous food, but found no better food than hunger!
There is a tradition by Imam ‘Ali (AS) that on The Night of Me’raj, Allah (SWT) said to The Prophet (S):
O’ Ahmad! How sweet and beautiful are the hunger, silence and seclusion? Wisdom, heart’s tranquillity, nearness to Me, continuous grief, righteous talks, thriftiness, indifference at the time of ease, and hardships, are the characteristics acquired by My servant as a result of hunger, silence, and seclusion.
Fasting has not only been well established and well researched as a primal source of mental alertness, but the act has also been well ignored. Fasting is considered one of the safest therapeutic agents known today in natural as well as conventional medicine. If only we could use fasting, as a way to increase our mental capability to concentrate, not only would we benefit from the fast, we would also achieve the pleasure of Allah (SWT).
It has been reported by researches in Alternative Medicine that during the process of fasting, the body lives on it’s own substance. In its wisdom, and here lies the secret of the extraordinary effectiveness of fasting as a powerful mode of therapy, the body will decompose and burn those cells and tissues which are diseased, damaged or dead and responsible for accumulating toxins in our body and brain.
During fasting, there also occurs the building of new, healthy cells thus bringing your body to a dynamic state. In this process, the cleansing capacity of the eliminative organs - lungs, liver, kidneys and the skin - is greatly increased, and masses of accumulated metabolic wastes and toxins are quickly expelled.
Fasting also offers physiological rest to all the major organs in the body, including the brain, and there is a stabilizing effect on all the vital physiological, nervous and mental functions. Mental powers are thus improved.
Strategy 20: The World And Its Pleasures
Daylami, in Irshadul Qulub, quoting The Commander of the Faithful (AS), says that The Prophet of Allah (S) said:
On The Night of The Me’raj (Ascension), Allah, the Exalted, said: ‘0 Ahmad! If a servant performs the Prayer as much as that of the people of the earth and the heaven, and fasts as much as that of the people of the earth and the heaven, and refrains, like the angels, from food, and wears the apparel of a devotee, then I see in his heart a bit of love for this world or for worldly reputation, leadership, celebrity and ornaments, he will not be in an abode in My neighborhood and I will drive My love out of his heart and make it dark until he forgets Me. I will not let him taste the sweetness of My love.’
(Irshad al-Qulub, Volume 1, Page 206)
According to Ayatullah Ibrahim Amini, one of the greatest obstacle to attaining the state of perfect communion with Allah (SWT) is unwavering attachment to worldly allurements namely, wealth and property, power and position. One’s attraction to these things causes the worshipper’s attention to these transient things. Therefore, you must cut-off these attractions at all cost, and at all times, so that the heart’s presence and attention towards Allah (SWT) becomes easier during Prayer.
There are various interpretations of the term World. What is essential here is to understand the Disapproved World. According to al-Majlisi (RA):
All things that prevent men and women from obeying Allah (SWT) and keep them away from His Love, and from seeking the hereafter, is defined as the Disapproved World.
Let it be known to you that which can be deduced from all the verses of The Qur’an and the traditions in this regard, according to our understanding of them, is that the accursed (disapproved) world is the sum total of all those things that prevent man from obeying Allah (SWT) and keep him away from His love and from seeking the Hereafter.
These attractions may include television and radio and their related illicit pleasures; being part of a group that only backbites people and uses foul language; fill oneself with food at all times; being lazy and wasting time on useless matters, and so forth. This is the world one has to refrain from.
The Prophet (S) had this advise to his companion Abu Dhar (RA) with regards to the Disapproved World, and reads as follows:
O’ Abu Dhar! The (disapproved) world is cursed! Curse is what’s in it except that which seeks Allah’s (SWT) pleasure. And there is nothing more hateful to Allah (SWT) than the (disapproved) world. He created it then left it. He didn’t look at it and will not look at it until the Final Hour (Judgment Day). And there is nothing more pleasurable to Allah (SWT) than faith in Him and abandoning that which He forbids.
O’ Abu Dhar! Blessed are those people who stay far away from this world, and those who await the Hereafter. They take the earth of Allah (SWT) as a carpet, its soil as a pillow and its water as perfume. They read the Book of Allah (SWT) loudly, call Him loudly and they cut themselves off from worldliness.
The Approved World is,
The abode of truth for him who appreciates its truthfulness, a place of safety for him who understands it, a mine of treasures for him who collects provisions from it (for the next world), and a house of instructions for him who draws lessons from it. It is the shrine of worship for those who love Allah (SWT), the house of Prayer for His Angels, the place where the revelations of Allah (SWT) descend, and the market place for those devoted to Him. Herein, they earn His Mercy and herein they acquire Paradise by way of profit.
(Imam ‘Ali (AS)
Worshipping Allah more than the compulsory prayers; using the time in this world to do useful things and help people; taking care of one’s Family and earning lawful income; refraining from the forbidden acts that displease Allah, and so forth, are acts that will plant healthy seeds in this world for the person to enjoy its fruits in the next. This is the Approved World.
Strategy 21: Arresting Thoughts
Because any individual’s mind is filled with thoughts at all times, he is supposed to arrest them, and put a stop on them during Prayer. When a thought comes, a command stop is used subconsciously to arrest and halt that thought and the person does not dwell on it. If this strategy is used on all incoming thoughts, then one will assume command and control over his incoming thoughts during Prayer.
In al-Kafi, on the authority of al-Baqir (AS), it is stated that he has said:
When doubts in the Prayer become too frequent, do not give heed to them, and regard the Prayer to be correct. It is hoped that this state would leave you, as Shaytan causes it.
(Mustadrak al-Wasa’il, Page 359, Tradition 8)
In another narrative, al-Baqir (AS) says:
Do not make it Shaytan’s habit to frequent you by breaking your Prayer, as this will stir his greed against you. Shaytan is evil and gets accustomed to what he is habituated to.
Zurarah says that the Imam added:
That malignant (Shaytan, the Accursed) wants to be obeyed. So, if he is disobeyed he will not come back to you.
(Mustadrak al-Wasa’il, Tradition 2)
Arresting your thoughts can help you overcome nagging worry and doubt, which stands in the way of your attention towards the Almighty. Arresting a thought involves concentrating intensely on the unwanted thought and suddenly stopping and emptying the mind. The command STOP is generally used to interrupt the distracting thought.
One technique is to draw a small dot on a piece of paper and concentrating on it very intensely. Any thought coming to your mind has to be thrown back and ignored. Focusing more on the dot, and freezing your mind will give rise to unwavering meditation. The more time you involve yourself with thinking about NOTHING, the more attentive and focused you become. This way your brain gets habituated to concentrating for longer periods of time without letting distracting thoughts interrupt your goals. (Figure One)
It is also more effective if you explore and list down all the stressful and negative thoughts that interfere with your Prayer. You should then categorize them in the following four sections - No interference, Interferes a little, Interferes moderately and Interferes a great deal. This way, you have a list, and all this needs to be done in writing. It should be understood as an accepted fact that none of these thoughts are productive during Prayer. (Figure One)
Arresting your thoughts requires consistent motivation. You should decide now that you really want to eliminate these negative thoughts during Prayer. Once this is done and the thoughts put in writing and categorized as mentioned above, close your eyes and visualize each thought, starting with the one that interferes a little only, and try and solve the problem in your mind. This way, a thought will be eliminated and will have no place in your Prayer. Together, and after some time, you will eliminate all the thoughts including the ones that interfere a great deal.
This exercise should be performed daily so no thought is misplaced or forgotten. Taking care of every thought and why it should distract you is one way of making sure the thought doesn’t appear in front of you during your Prayer and distract you from your goal. Some thoughts may return again and again, so you will just have to learn to interrupt them. Like the experts say, the main effort is to stifle each thought as it begins, and to concentrate on your Prayer. The thoughts will return less and less readily in most cases, and eventually cease to be a problem.
According to al-Khomeini (RA), in The Disciplines of Prayer:
The principal way of taming it (evil desires) is to act to its contrary. That is, at the time of the Prayer one is to prepare himself to control the imagination during the Prayer and confine it to action, and, as soon as it tries to slip out of his hand, to recapture it. One should carefully watch it in all the actions, recitations, invocations, etc. of the Prayer, observing it so as not to be obstinate.
At the beginning, this seems to be a difficult task. But after a while of strict practice and treatment, it will certainly become tame and obedient. You should not, of course, expect yourself, at the beginning, to be able to control the bird of imagination along the Prayer completely. Actually, this is impossible. Perhaps those who stressed this impossibility had such expectations. The situation requires intention, careful patience and gradual training.
It is possible that you can first control your imagination during only one-tenth of the Prayer or even less than that, in which you can have the presence of heart. Then, if one pays more attention, and if he feels himself in need of that, he can attain a better result, and can gradually overcome the Shaytan of fancy and the bird of imagination, such that they come under his control in most of the Prayer.