We are told from childhood to focus. We grow up and go to work, where we are told to focus on the job. We get married, have kids, and are told to focus on our parenthood skills. We are exhorted to pay attention, concentrate, sharpen our minds, all of which are the definition of the word. What no one tells us is how to do so. Lack of such focus allows other people and situations to cause us stress, which makes us ill. That’s where mindfulness comes in. This is an awareness therapy teaching people how to keep what is outside our consciousness outside and only what is good and nurturing inside.
“One way to boost our will power and focus is to manage our distractions instead of letting them manage us“. (Daniel Goleman)
- Five More. If you’re trying to keep the mind on a task, force the mind to do five more of something. Five more minutes, five more pages of a report, five more answers to a question. This keeps the mind on its subject instead of wandering off.
- One Day at a Time. Thinking of past or future situations related to the one you’re in at present keeps the mind from paying attention to the present situation. Gently nudge the mind into considering the present situation and keep it there.
- Clear Away the Unwanted. You’ll do anything to get out of working out, finishing the presentation, hosting a sleep-over party. This just makes what you should be concentrating on all the harder to do.
- Use Sunglasses. Blocking the light keeps the eyes from being dazzled by sparkling pond water, for example, or glare from snow. This puts the mind in thoughts of blazing light from diamonds, for instance, which reminds you of a baseball game to which the kids need transportation, and that puts you in mind of the oil change for the car, but the garage is closed today, and we’re sure you get the idea. Close off the distractions.
- Save it for Later. Doing five things at once guarantees something won’t get done thoroughly. Put aside the distractions for another hour. Concentrate on the task before you, so it will be done thoroughly. Move on to the other twenty things later and do them thoroughly.
“Realize deeply that the present moment is all you ever have. Make the Now the primary focus of your life”. (Eckhart Tolle)
Mindfulness isn’t about the secret to wealth and happiness. It’s about being totally in the moment, aware and primed for action. It is, however, the secret to ditching the depression, anxiety, stress and pain from daily life. It can be done anywhere anytime. For example:
- Notice your body. What gives it a headache? What makes its stomach tighten up? What makes its tired? Alternatively, what makes your body feel good? What makes its head sharp, its heart dance and its stomach feel good?
- Now notice other people. Are their voices sharp or harsh? Do they seem threatening? Do they make demands upon your time? Do they stay on you for some reason? Are these people bosses or in some other position of authority? How do these things affect your mind and body?
- Since you are acutely aware of your mind and body, what situations put them into a tizzy? Is bumper to bumper traffic a reason for tension? Do unpleasant customers or clients cause your stomach to drop into your shoes?
- Look closely at these situations and persons. Are their actions vehement and their voices harsh because someone is on their case? Is traffic due to something outside your control like an accident? Do these situations and persons have anything to do with you?
- If the answer to that last question was no, then your body and mind should be perfectly serene. If the answer was yes, are you capable of realizing that they don’t mean to come down on you?
Increasing focus is a simple matter of becoming aware of outside influences on your mind and body. It is a matter of putting these influences in their proper place. Deal with them on your own terms at a time of your choosing. Concentrate on the job at hand, placing distractions in their proper place and time. Realize that you are not the cause of the stresses and distractions of current situations. Gently concentrate on your breathing, walking, listening and eating. When you can concentrate on how your body reacts to stimuli like the above, then you will have learned focus. Please contact us for more information on mindfulness and focus. We’ll be glad to help.
Find more exercises related to mindfulness at work here.