Do you find it more and more difficult to focus?
Does your mind drift off, despite best efforts?
It happens so easily, doesn’t it?
Want a strange but quick and painless tip to train your brain to focus? A kind of focus fitness exercise.
Simple but easy to improve focus
Find a few free minutes. Enjoy 2 or 3 deep slow breaths before resuming normal breathing.
To whatever you hear.
With a relaxed alertness, listen to the sounds around you. Hear them but avoid the tendency to label them. Just be aware that they are happening.
As you begin to listen, background sounds become apparent. The furnace, a fan, traffic… Even silence is its own kind of sound. For the practice to be effective, resist the temptation to label or name or judge the sounds. A chirping bird is the equivalent sound of a barking dog…no judgment. Everything is treated the same.
Some sounds might trigger a reaction, lika a melody you hear on a radio. Again, resist the urge to name the feeling, but listen as best you can without attachment. You can notice and follow the different sensations in your body.
Experience it rather than think it.
It's okay if you drift away
A loud sound can startle you out of your listening, or if your thoughts have drifted, can bring you back to the present. The idea is to remain relaxed and alert, not dropping off into a min-nap. In other words, listen with attention.
When (not if) you find your mind wandering, gently return your attention to listening.
Here is a nice focus quote for you:
“Concentration can be cultivated. One can learn to exercise willpower, discipline one’s body and train one’s mind.”
Remember this most of all
As always, self-compassion and non-judgment is key to progress. Don’t worry if your mind wanders. It always will. Just keep returning to the present moment. Over time and with regular practice, your thoughts will wander less frequently.
This exercise can be as long or as short as you like. Engaging in five one-minute practices over the course of the day, every day will have more benefit that one session of five minutes. You can learn to focus better. One day at a time.
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If you want to do a deep dive into developing focus, James Clear has an excellent guide.
Here's an infographic that pulls it together:
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