This post will begin exploring the practical benefits of mindfulness. Today’s focus will be focus.
There are a few ways to achieve mindfulness. One method that’s gained recent attention in the Western world is mindfulness meditation, which I will discuss below. I will then connect meditation to how we can improve our focus.
In our rapidly industrializing world, with continually proliferating distractions competing for our precious attentions, the exact opposite of mindfulness–or mind-wandering–is especially easy to let happen. Mind-wandering involves losing sight of why we’re involved in what we’re doing, and subsequently losing the ability to keep our attention fixed on that thing.
Let’s go against the grain a little here and slow down on meditation. Learning how to slow down is crucial: it allows us to detach from the ever-expanding chaos of our outer world, and zone back in on what’s truly important and relevant to what we would ultimately like to achieve.
Which brings us to this post’s scope: What meditation is, and how it can be done.
The first question is answered simply enough. Though there are a few distinct ways of defining it, one way particularly relevant to improving focus involves closing one’s eyes and shifting attention away from the outer world (or one’s distracting thoughts–whatever the element of unwanted distraction is), and in toward one’s own bodily functioning. This could take the form of focusing on the steady rhythm of one’s breath (possibly counting as each goes by to shift attention away from worrisome thoughts), or simply thinking about parts of the body and calmly noting how one feels. The latter method is especially helpful for improving our emotional awareness, a very valuable trait to develop for our overall fulfillment. (Stay tuned!)
Exercises like meditation exemplify our ability to shift attention with intention. Why is this important for focus? Because the opposite of focus is distractibility, and distractibility results when one’s attention is strained for too long on a task, event, or particular state of affairs. Meditation allows us to detach from such sources of mental burden and center back in to rediscover ourselves.
In short, then, mindful meditation helps us put things back into clearer perspective. This enables us to achieve our goals with renewed senses of purpose and self-acceptance; thus granting us access not only to why we do what we’re doing, but also what we would like to achieve by doing it over the long haul.