“Bring the mind into sharp focus and make it alert so that it can immediately intuit truth, which is everywhere.” Sage words from martial arts master, Bruce Lee, but how does the modern grasshopper gain sharp focus in a world full of distraction? With busy schedules, easily accessible technology and marathon video streaming sessions, how is it even possible to focus on one thing at a time? There are actionable steps that you can take to nurture and develop your levels of concentration. Here are some tips to help you avoid distraction and focus your mind.
To focus on one task or goal at a time, begin by shutting out all external distractions. Interruptions can sidetrack you or cause your mind to wander. Though frequently used as a means of focusing, music interferes with focus and with your short-term memory. If truly attempting to focus, wear ear plugs. Some contestants in memory and focus games even use blinders or face a blank wall during competitions.
Taking on more than one task at a time deducts from your attentiveness and impedes your ability to learn and remember. The act of multitasking also encourages superficial, simplistic thinking and obstructs the mind’s ability to perform on a deeper level in intellectually demanding scenarios.
If you have an extensively long day of work ahead of you, or a tediously intricate project to complete, “chunking” your work will make it more manageable and less intimidating. Limit the time you will spend on each task or chunk. If you begin on one, then grow bored or frustrated, switch gears and work on another chunk for a while. In the arena of concentration, boredom is the mind killer. Designate work time frames and break time frames congruently to keep your mind fresh.
Keep your mind active and alert even when not attempting work tasks. Playing games that increase your concentration can help you maintain focus in other fields. Action-oriented video games with fast-paced sensory stimulus and attention shifts have been found to aid dyslexics in improving cross-sensory skills, resulting in sharper reading comprehension. Online games that require intense focus can boost your concentration skills as well.
Meditation uses breathing and posturing to help you clear your mind, and a clear mind is a focused mind. Concentrate on your breathing and fend off any intruding thoughts. Observe all aspects associated with your breathing, but block out everything else. Hear only the sound of the air as it moves in through your nose and out through your mouth. Allow any disturbances to flow away from you like water. Meditation not only trains your mind to concentrate, but benefits your health as well by lowering your blood pressure, and meditation is frequently attributed to peace of mind. There are free guided meditations available here.
By using a few tips, you can train your brain to better concentrate, even in the most distracting of settings, and let all disruption flow away from you. In the words of the Kung Fu master, “Become like water, my friend.”