This blog is an agglomeration of my take-away from books and blogs by some of the greatest and focused minds.
After reading one of my favorite books Deep Work by Cal Newport, I have grown more and more inquisitive about attention span and concentration. The power of concentration and focus cannot be overstated. But in today’s day and age the number of distractions are more than ever in the history of mankind.
It is almost impossible to get bored, there is always something new out there which can grab your attention and then the next second there is something else. I, personally, think it is one of the biggest hurdles for me as a student and a novice meditator. The amount of will power one needs is more since the hurdles have increased.
In his brilliant book, Deviate about the neuroscience of perception, Beau Lotto mentions about a tendency of brain to crave for constant novel stimulus. Our mind is so trained so seek something new or novel. That is why scrolling through the feed is so addictive, you get something novel with every finger touch.
How can one train their mind to rejoice the beauty and steadiness of recurrent and constant things in life?
Well, with what I intercepted the first thing to do is as mentioned by Swamiji in Zoom Satsang on 28th March 2021 is to have a routine. By having a routine you save a lot of will power to fight against those tempting lucrative distractions (or you can abstain yourself from the mighty Internet). As mentioned in the same discourse, routine also brings a sense of detachment, here from the distractions.
Another useful tip I read in Deep Work and Hyperfocus by Chris Bailey is to lower your stimulus threshold. One stimulus engaging one sense organ is just not enough to engage us now. We need audio-visual screens while eating a meal which is stimulating enough in itself. We need music while performing routine chores.
This practice is also termed very beautifully in the most calming book Mindfull to Mindful by Swamiji. The practice of Mindfulness. One thing at a time. Eat while you eat. Listen while you hear. There is joy in every action when done mindfully.
Something else I found very interesting in the aforementioned books is the concept called “Embrace Your Boredom”. Wow.
As a learning meditator, I feel the dullness (boredom) in my meditation sessions — searching for novel stimulus — wandering mind — *thinking of comebacks in imaginary conversations*
This happens because I am not trained to rejoice the beauty of steadiness and the concept of filling attentional space (word coined by Chris Bailey) with the same thing repeatedly.
Yogic practice of Tratak as mentioned by Swamiji in most comprehensive book on meditation “A Million Thoughts” is also something worth inculcating in life to train one’s mind.
Dandapani in one of his videos says something that stayed with me- mind can do only do one thing at a time. It might give you an illusion of multitasking because it moves so swiftly from one object to another that our senses can hardly acknowledge it.
In his very informative Ted Talk , Dr. Marvin Myungwoo Chun (an award winning cognitive neuroscience researcher) gives a very simple yet effective mantra for making your brain more focused – “Simplify. Relax. Unitask.”
Leading a virtuous life also gives peace of mind which is a huge aid in the managing your attention- something wonderful I learnt from Swamiji’s discourses. Pomodoro Technique is a very useful too.
I have led most of my life staying in a distracted state of mind and one things I have realized is – A purposeful focused session boosts your energy levels while meaningless pleasurable distractions drain you.
I have taken the liberty of using the word “we” assuming many of us face distractions.
Kindly share your tips and tricks for better concentration and leading a more focused life.
Thank you for reading.
Jai Sri Hari!