Tag Archives: mindfulness

Focus, mindfulness and meditation

Focus - img

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.

Mindfulness, etc.

Mindfulness Post (3) - img.

The topic of today’s entry is mindfulness. This concept has gained considerable popularity in recent years, particularly from psychologists. Such psychologists are generally interested in one essential question: assuming happiness and well-being are desirable goals for any living creature (including humans), how do we go about reaching them?

Now, obviously, happiness is a very abstract notion. There are many paths to it, though the destination has clear commonalities across individuals that are worth noting. One such pattern psychologists take note of is that the happy person does not dwell excessively on the past or future: rather, they are firmly rooted in the present moment, open to the natural progression of whatever situation they currently find themselves in.

In an age where speed seems to have become more important than ever to keep up with the breakneck paces of the Joneses, and where the dissemination of new (mostly digital) information has accelerated as rapidly as it has, such a ‘mindful’ mindset is crucial. In order to be happy, we must come to terms both with our worldly situation and who we are: the latter is what really leads to our contentment in the long run.

It’s easy to get swept up in thoughts along the lines of “the more things I do now, and the quicker I do them, the better off my future-self will be”. And there is wisdom to that approach. But on the flip-side–especially for the young, who see so many opportunities in the world that slowing down simply isn’t an option containing any pragmatic or reasonable bearing–it can lead to unwisely neglecting the present in favor of what’s yet to come, or (for all we know) might never come. And that’s where long-term disillusionment and discontentment begin seeping into life and taking their ugly form.

There’s a lot that’s worthwhile about the ‘go with the flow’ route most mindfulness theorists advocate for, and I’ll touch more on it–specifically, on how to practice and benefit from it–in the next post.