Feel like it’s impossible to slow down and focus on what you’re doing in the present moment? You’re definitely not alone.
Let’s be real. Distractions are everywhere and focus isn’t something most of us do well.
The thing is, the ability to focus is critical for success in life. If we have difficulty focusing, every aspect of our life suffers — relationships, work, our health and more. Have you ever stopped to think what an incredible shift you would experience if you practiced the act of focusing?
Welcome to mindful living, something that can be incredible for improving focus and much, much more.
What Is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness. It’s something we all possess but don’t necessarily practice regularly. Simply put, mindfulness is focusing your attention on what you’re doing in the present moment.
According to Jon Kabat-Zinn, who founded Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction in 1979, “mindfulness is awareness that arises from paying attention, on purpose, to the present moment, non-judgmentally.”
Mindfulness is the ability to stay focused in the present no matter what it is that you’re doing. Mindfulness allows us to be in the here and now. And when we’re in the here and now, it’s a lot easier to focus on what we’re doing.
Think of mindfulness as being in the flow of the present moment. It’s the conscious direction of our thoughts to whatever we’re doing right now.
Sounds easy enough, right? Sure. But most of us don’t do it. Our minds and the millions of random thoughts we have tend to take over. Rather than staying present in whatever task we’re doing, we end up obsessively thinking about things that happened in the past or what might happen in the future. Welcome to one of the main reasons we become stressed out and can’t focus.
Here’s the thing, though. We can bring a state of mindfulness to anything.
Taking a shower, walking the dog, making breakfast or dinner, doing the dishes, doing the laundry, driving to work, engaging in our work, working out…everything we do can be seen as an opportunity to practice mindfulness.
The Benefits of Mindfulness for Increased Focus
The benefits mindfulness has on focus are truly unprecedented. If you’re interested in improving your ability to focus and concentrate, you should definitely be thinking about how to incorporate more mindfulness into your life.
Check out the following benefits of the art of “paying attention on purpose to what’s happening in the present moment.”
Mindfulness Can Help Restructure the Brain
Were you aware that practicing mindfulness can actually change the structure of your brain?
In 2011, Harvard University Medical School researchers studied mindfulness by looking at magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) during an eight-week Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program.
What researchers discovered at the end of the eight-week study was nothing short of amazing. Not only did participants report that they experienced several cognitive benefits, but MRIs showed that there were significant physical differences in the grey matter density in the brain.
What exactly did these brain images show?
- Differences in brain structure in areas responsible for self-awareness, compassion and introspection.
- Decreased grey matter density in the amygdala, an almond-shaped structure in the frontal lobe that is responsible for stress and anxiety.
- Increased grey matter density in the hippocampus, which is a part of the brain associated with memory and learning.
Seeing that mindfulness can literally restructure the brain, it’s easy to imagine how it could seriously promote more focus.
Mindfulness Can Help Improve Overall Well-Being
When we’re focused on what’s happening in the moment as it’s happening, it’s pretty difficult to get caught up in other thoughts.
Imagine a reality where you’re fully engaged in what you’re doing, whether that be your professional life, personal life or activities you love.
Rather than thinking the countless incessant thoughts about everything but what we’re actually doing, we instead become fully engaged in it.
Doing so would dramatically improve your overall wellbeing, which would do wonders for improving your concentration.
No regret about what has happened in the past. No worry about what might happen in the future. Just full attention on what is happening right now. Engaged. Present. And fully aware.
Reduce Stress and Ease Anxiety
Stressed out? Anxious? So is everyone else.
Stress and anxiety are two of the biggest things that make it feel impossible to focus.
Mindfulness can help. It invites us to be aware of the present moment as it’s happening. It can allow us to become more aware of our thoughts and emotions and be less reactive when they arise.
If you’re someone who struggles with anxiety, mindfulness can help you ease into a state of non-reaction, which can help tremendously with anxiety levels.
And when you’re not anxious, guess what? It’s far easier to focus.
Increasing Focus Through Mindfulness
One of the best ways increase your focus and ability to concentrate is by practicing mindfulness.
Here’s something to think about.
We have the ability to control our thoughts. And we can control where our attention goes by controlling our thoughts. We can choose to keep our thoughts in the present moment by living in a state of mindfulness.
When working, mindfulness helps us to focus and concentrate on our work in that moment. When engaged with others in our personal relationships, mindfulness allows us to be fully present with the other person. When studying, mindfulness allows us to focus our attention on what it is we’re learning and keep our concentration centered on the task at hand.
5 Ways to Promote Focus and Mindfulness
1. Embrace Mindfulness from the Moment You Wake Up
One way to promote focus and mindfulness is to begin the moment you wake up. For most of us, the alarm goes off and we start immediately thinking of what we have to do that day, what happened the day before or what pressing matters are pertinent in our lives.
Embracing mindfulness from the moment you wake up is a simple concept once you have it down. When you wake up, tell yourself “I am waking up” and simply be present in the moment of waking up. When your mind starts to wander, bring yourself back to the present moment as you start the day. Don’t think about yesterday. Don’t obsess on what didn’t go the way you wanted. Just be fully present starting out your day. It could go something like this:
I am waking up. I am thankful for a new day. I am listening to the birds chirping outside my window. I am sitting up in bed. I am getting out of bed and am mindful of my feet on the floor. I am standing up and walking to the bathroom. I am making coffee. I am drinking my coffee, aware of the sensation of the cup to my lips, the warm liquid in my mouth, the taste on my palette and the sensation of swallowing each sip. I am turning the water on to take a shower. I am in the shower and allowing myself to experience the sensation of the warm water and am fully present as I cleanse my body. I am getting dressed. I am walking to the car. I am getting in the car. I am starting the car. I am driving to work.
See how you can shift your thought process to focus on exactly what is happening in the present moment as it unfolds? Begin to practice mindfulness from the moment you wake up each day and you’ll begin to promote more focus and mindfulness throughout each moment every day.
2. Start the Day Out with Some CBD
As part of embracing mindfulness from the moment you wake up, you can start the day out with some CBD. CBD can be used to help maintain your sense of focus throughout the day.
Feeling anxious and stressed out can make it extremely difficult to be mindful and focus on what you’re doing in the present moment. By supporting relaxation with CBD, it’s easier to embrace each moment as it unfolds.
As part of your mindful morning, you might consider taking CBD. While everyone is different when it comes to the effects of CBD, it may be the perfect addition to your routine.
3. Focus on One Thing at a Time
One of the most effective ways to promote focus and mindfulness is to focus on one thing at a time. While it might sound easy enough in concept, most of us aren’t doing it.
Think about it. When you do the dishes, are you really focused on the fact that this is all you’re doing in the present moment? When you work on a task, are you focused only on that task or are you thinking of other things? When you take the dog for a walk, are you simply walking the dog or are you fixated on other thoughts?
Most of us do not focus on one thing at a time. This is the premise of mindfulness, however, and can do wonders to improve your focus. How exactly do you do this when most of us are accustomed to giving in to the incessant thoughts we have all day? Bring yourself back to the present moment as much as possible.
4. Come Back to the Present Moment Each Time You Find Your Mind Wandering
Incorporating focus and mindfulness into your everyday life becomes possible when you bring yourself back to the present moment every time you find your mind has begun to wander from whatever it is you’re doing in the present moment.
Let’s go back to the idea of doing the dishes. It’s a simple task that most of us engage in on a regular basis. The next time you’re doing the dishes and you find your mind begins to wander to something else, bring yourself back to what you’re doing. The plate in your hand, the warm water, the action of washing and rinsing, then putting it in the rack to dry.
When you find yourself thinking about what happened at work, or what your boss said, or the fight you had with your boyfriend, or the test you have to study for, or the fact that you haven’t done the laundry, or sent that email, or the countless other thoughts that can captivate our minds and taking us out of what we’re doing in the now, simply bring yourself back to the present. Begin to practice this every time your mind wanders, and you’ll find focus and mindfulness begin to take precedence over those incessant thoughts.
5. Practice Sitting Meditation
Did you know that people who meditate regularly are believed to have the ability to decrease brain activity associated with the wandering mind? Research shows that people who meditate (compared to non-meditators) have more stability in the posteromedial cortex, an area of the brain that is associated with mind-wandering and spontaneous thought.
Sitting meditation is one of the simplest concepts that exits. All you need to do is sit and focus on breathing in and breathing out. If you’ve never meditated before, you’ll find your mind wanders…A LOT. The more you practice, however, the more you’ll find you can focus on each breath moving slowly in and gently out of your body.
If you’re new to meditation, you’ll find there are tons of resources that can help. From meditation apps to guided meditation audios online, there is a wealth of resources that can help you get started with a regular meditation practice. Doing so is something that can have a profound effect on promoting focus and mindfulness.
We live in a world where distractions are everywhere. Want to increase your focus and live more mindfully? We can’t say we blame you. The power of focus and mindfulness can truly be life-changing.
If at first the practice of mindfulness doesn’t come easily, give it some time. Bring yourself back to what you’re doing in the present moment as many times as it takes until it’s something that comes to you naturally. We’ve seen the results in our own lives and understand personally just how powerful the shift can be.
Do you regularly practice mindfulness in your own life? We’d love to hear about it in the comments below.