Volker Kitz (2021)

Konzentration: Warum sie so wertvoll ist und wie wir sie bewahren

Volker Kitz’ exploration of the minds’ capacity for concentration covers many interesting aspects of our current best understanding of the enigma which is human consciousness. He manages to balance psychological research with relatable personal experiences, historical facts and notable anecdotes (did you know that Franz Kafka was among the first bodybuilders, for example?).

The events during a ten day silent mediation retreat in India, which the author attended primarily in order to strengthen his own capacity for concentration, provide the general backbone of his story. Whilst mindfulness meditation is seldomly mentioned explicitly, it becomes clear that his is the primary technique he and his fellow attendants trained in. Kitz touches briefly on the Buddhist concepts they were introduced to (emptiness, and no-self most prominent among them), but neither the organizers of the retreat, nor he himself in writing the book, sound proselytizing at any point. Much more, he uses them in the spirit of many other authors of secular mindfulness literate, merely as tools and concepts that should help the reader to better understand the human condition.

I highly recommend the book for everyone looking for a compact and entertaining introduction into the current state of the science of concentration in particular and consciousness in general. While experienced readers who are already familiar with other books on the topic (see below) may not find much novelty in Kitz’ work, they will nevertheless be able to take some things away from it—a handful of funny cocktail party anecdotes at the very least.