To minimize your unwanted intrusive thoughts, increase your ability to focus. If you can keep your attention on what you’re doing, you’ll have fewer stray thoughts. Easier said than done right? Especially in today’s age where everything seems to be vying for your attention.
Focus is an important skill that’s in short supply. If it’s not the bills screaming for your attention, it’s the kids, the partner, the job, the social media influencer, the new TV show, the failing health, the family drama. We can’t seem to take a breath, much less maintain a strong focus on anything anymore. Luckily, focus is a skill that can be learned, developed and sharpened.
Building focus will make it easier to keep your thoughts at bay. It also makes it easier to ignore the thoughts that will not serve you and get you back to the work that will. By enhancing your focus, you’ll accomplish more and give your emotional wellbeing a big boost.
Meditation seems to be a cure-all for nearly everything. It has been around for thousands of years and has never been more popular.
Meditation can do a lot of things for the consistent practitioner:
● Gain focus and lengthen your attention span.
● Reduce stress.
● Minimize anxiety.
● Strengthen your mental health.
● Increase self-awareness.
● There are also many health benefits for your body.
Anyone that’s serious about maximizing emotional health should consider creating a daily meditation practice.
There are plenty of extensive guides on meditation, but here are some tips to get started:
- Find a quiet spot with minimal distractions. A skilled meditation practitioner can meditate just about anywhere, but it’s easiest to learn to meditate with minimal distractions.
- Set a timer. Twenty minutes is a good number to shoot for but start where you’re at. Even five minutes a day is a great start. A timer will prevent you from needing to look at the clock obsessively. You won’t have to worry about the time.
- Sit in a comfortable position. Ideally, this is a sitting position that you can maintain for the duration of the meditation. Moving around too much reduces the effectiveness of the meditation.
- Focus on your breathing. Notice your breath and feel the air tickling the space between your nose and your upper lip. Feel air moving in and out of your body.
- When your mind wanders, and it will, bring it back to your breath. Keep doing this until your time is up.
You’ll notice how challenging it is to keep your mind focused. It’s not easy to pay attention to your breath, especially when there are so many other interesting things your brain can think up!
You’ve spent most of your life distracting yourself, and that’s why you’re so good at it. If you want to become good at focusing, you’re going to have to practise.
Let’s consider a few moments and ways you could practise each day:
- Household chores. This is a great opportunity to focus. Just like you paid attention to your breath during meditation, practise paying attention to your chores while you’re doing them. Are you focused on washing the dishes, or are you thinking about your cable bill?
- Your job. See how well you can keep your mind on your tasks at work. Notice when your attention shifts to something else and redirect back.
- Having a conversation. Are you fully engaged with the conversation, or paying attention to something else? Where are your thoughts?
- Sitting in traffic. Are you focused on your environment, which could include the radio, or, are you thinking about something unrelated to your journey?
Every moment of your day is an opportunity to work on your ability to focus. With time, your ability to keep your mind on a task will greatly improve. You’ll also reduce the presence of random thoughts.