In this video, Daniel Goleman, author of Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence, explores two studies about cognitive control, including the marshmallow test done at Stanford University. He explains that cognitive control has been found to be a predictor of future success. So, it might stand to reason that mindfulness exercises for focus and attention are important tools to help us succeed in life.
Mindfulness and Focus
Exploring mindfulness for focus is an endeavor with favorable results – if we stick to it. Continued practice is key as focus doesn’t increase overnight as a result of a single concentration meditation. Overtime, however, studies reveal that focusing on an internal state of physiological function can indeed cultivate our capacity for focused attention. Additional cognitive benefits include enhanced working memory, emotional regulation, and acceptance.
Mindfulness exercises for focus can include any practice that invites us to focus our attention on a single object. This might be the breath, a single point in the body (such as the heart or the third eye), or even on an external object (known as eye gazing). Mindfulness and focus go hand in hand so long as we are set on a single object of awareness.
Cultivating Focus in Five Minutes
A simple mindfulness for focus practice brings us away from our thoughts and into the breath. To practice, find a comfortable seated position where you will not be disturbed for five minutes. Set a timer for this length of time so that you will have one less thing to think about.
Straightening the spine and softening the shoulders, close your eyes when you are ready. Draw your attention to the breath and let your awareness rest there. Watch the steady inward and outward movement of the breath for five full minutes. If the mind wanders, this is entirely okay. Simply bring your attention back to the breath whenever you are aware of this mental movement.
For best results, practice this once a day for at least a few weeks. Overtime, as your capacity to focus increases, you might like to lengthen the meditation. However, don’t worry about how long you are able to practice this for. Focus on quality over quantity.