Overcoming short Attention spans.
Distraction is a learned, adaptive habit that can be shifted toward greater focus and longer attention spans.
Stress. Indecision. Lack of focus. Fear of making the wrong choice. And, waiting for the right conditions before acting and deciding is what Zig Ziglar calls “getting cooked in the squat”. These get in the way of taking action.
So how do we get out of our own way?
Mental state and mindset play a huge part in motivating action, but what about conditioned behaviours? Aren’t we being fed small feeds of information, snapshots online, and small doses of dopamine through social networks? Aren’t we are being conditioned to accept small downloads of information? Aren’t we being taught to pay attention in short ten second bursts?
We can use the same tactics to break habit strongholds and short attention spans.
Simple time outs, turning off your devices and sitting still for a moment, paying attention to your own breath can strengthen your ability to take “notice”. Be present with your thoughts, your feelings, immerse yourself in your environment, step into your own body in that moment and sharpen your ability to focus.
Shifting perspective on time and energy.
When you begin to appreciate your time and energy more, your priorities will change.
Life events can shift our focus. A death of a family member brings a different outlook about our own mortality and how we use our time. An illness or a realization that you are getting older and want more time-freedom can shift perspective.
A change in public health, how it impacts travel, social events, lifestyles and happiness can catalyze a movement towards happiness and well-being.
All of these impact what we turn our attention to, how well we focus and our decision to be present. Or do we stall and default into feeling FEAR about the future? Are we aware we avoiding our own fear through distraction?
Memories that tilt Attention.
Memories with positive associations can inspire your attention and enable more personal focus.
I’ve used this example before in my blog posts, but here it is again, recycled. Consider something like an apple. Do you see yourself as a child walking through the crisp autumn leaves and biting into a sour apple? Picking apples in an orchard with your family? Visiting a busy market?
Imagine and visualize the apple. Next, add in the emotion and the feeling of happiness of the experience and you are able to dial into and focus on that moment more clearly.
This simple linking of a memory to an image and a colour or a feeling makes it possible to observe in greater detail, sharpen your focus and improve your memory.
Just as we can lose focus, we can reconnect with it by creating a space to sharpen it.
Small “interrupting” meditative sessions are important for training the mind to be present. Even, if its busy. These can be as short as 15 seconds, then 30 seconds, and then a minute. And, with nothing to achieve in these sessions except noticing your own breath.
If this seems too hard and impossible to do at first, pick something to pay attention to. A cloud formation. A tree. A pen. Your shoes. Just try to “lock in” and notice details. Set a timer and see if it’s achievable and then, increase your time of focused attention.
Blocking out Distraction?
How to use distraction to re-focus.
Conditions will never be perfect to focus or dial-in our attention. But regardless, we can choose what we intend to pay attention to and sharpen our focus on that thing. Overwhelming distraction is interesting and an opportunity to illuminate a weakness and personal conditioning where we need to make more effort to re-focus.
Accepting conditioning and conditions as they are is important. We cannot always block out interference, but being aware of a hazard or problem that can arise if we don’t focus, might catalyze a behaviour change needed to succeed.
If we keep repeating bad habits, the only way through this is to reprogram the subconscious through repetition. Over time, a new and positive habit can be installed to replace and interrupt the old destructive one.
Simple and short meditations can be very powerful new habit for teaching the mind to be more relaxed, present, focused. Step into the experience. Notice how it feels to be in meditation this day, this moment and observe your mind-chatter.
In praise of Oneness.
Stepping into a flow state brings a sense of oneness with that single task. You are fully stepping into the present moment with mindfulness. Just your own breath and the task itself are noticeable.
Have you ever worked on a creative project and completely forgotten about the time? Have you merged with the process and oddly enough, ignored the other distractions and other events that were taking place? This is oneness re-defined. This is about being more present. And in doing so, become more focused and deliberate about what we give our attention to.
Being in the flow or not, we can hold the state of being present. Awareness heightens focus. We observe ourselves paying attention. And, soon we become more engaged in “being alive” than ever before. This is why meditation is so incredibly powerful when paired with visualization. Each works symbiotically to sharpen the experience of being more present and focused. It has the power to set us free from distraction habits and negative perspectives.
Being able to focus and bring your attention to the present moment is a skill that has been diluted by so many interruptions by social media, phones and life, in general. As helpful as it is to be connected, there is also a downside to the constant download of distracting information that can inject negative habits and bad vibes into your day.
We have drifted away from being appreciative of the simple things in life and don’t get time to do that until we are “officially” on vacation. But by then, we have conditioned a response and a pattern that might not serve us.
The good news is that the path to becoming more focused and being able to direct your attention to more positive events can be learned through simple “distractions” of short meditative or visualization sessions. Each will pull you away from distraction habits and steer you back into another mode of being. Once we reconnect with the present moment, it is possible to expand our observations and realize being present is one of the most powerful things we can do to empower our decisions.
Deep relaxation is an important skill to sharpen your focus and improve your memory. Listen to this meditation sitting still or walking. Visit Lightspeed’s SHOP link to listen to a sound sample or listen to the full meditation @ Soundcloud.
If you love these meditations, please feel free to support this site by purchasing an MP3. Thank you so much!