Technology has enabled more distractions in our lives than ever before, and it’s easy to lose focus on one’s priorities and goals. Focusing our minds is a sure way to achieving our goals and fulfilling the promise of our lives.
If you’re like me, you might have been buried in distractions from notifications on a mobile phone or computer — from email, social media, news alerts and instant messages. One day I decided to shut off the notifications on my iPhone. Now I now check for messages on my own time versus being interrupted by notifacations.
“Distractions signal that something has changed,” says David Rock, co-founder of the NeuroLeadership Institute and author of Your Brain at Work (HarperCollins, 2009). It’s an inner alert that says, “Orient your attention here now; this could be dangerous.”
And sometimes life gets out of balance. So working on personal focus is a great way to find your center again. Here are some practical tips for staying focused.
1. Meditate in the Morning
Morning meditation can be a transformative, life-changing experience if done regularly. Take any of our online meditation classes to learn productive meditation techniques. Practice a few minutes each day. Be patient with yourself; it took a lifetime to get you clogged up and unbalanced. It takes some time for a lifetime of reverberations in one’s mind to dissolve into the focused stillness that regular meditation practice enables.
2. Be Creative First Thing
Creative time can be a release us from the distractions of life. Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote, “Man’s mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions.” Being creative opens the door to an inner dimension where we reflect, expand ideas, and see life in new ways. I say be creative – sing, paint, play music, blog, or keep a diary daily. Be creative.
Julia Cameron, author of “The Artist’s Way,” suggests writing daily Morning Pages — three pages of longhand, stream of consciousness writing, done first thing in the morning. Morning pages are not intended to be high art. Cameron suggests, “they are not even “writing.” They are about anything and everything that crosses your mind– and they are for your eyes only. Morning Pages provoke, clarify, comfort, cajole, prioritize and synchronize the day at hand. Do not over-think Morning Pages: just put three pages of anything on the page…and then do three more pages tomorrow.”
3. Run and Become
Running a few miles a day is a great way to let go of the distractions of the day. Rather than listening to music on Spotify when you run,oractice mindfulness while running. Focus on your breathing. Listen to the quiet. Accomplished runner and leader of Shambhala, Sakyong Mipham combines mindfulness with physical movement for more energy, more focus, and more. His book, “Running with the Mind of Meditation,” shares ways to connect with the present moment through synchronizing body and mind.
4. Commit to Your Calendar
Keep a physical or online calendar. That’s where you can schedule and prioritize time for activities that nurture focus. Add calendar listings for morning meditation, yoga, being creative, running and more. Be fair to yourself — create a schedule you feel you can keep. Then keep to the schedule; that’s the commitment. The longer you do the more you’re providing your ability to focus. Fulfilling your calendar puts your focus into action while nurturing good practices for life.
5. Control Instant Notifications
Author Stephen King says the one thing a writer needs is a “door” to close. We’re living in an instant notification world. Consider reducing or eliminating persistent notifications on mobile phones and laptops from social media, email, stores and friends. Check messages on your own time versus allowing them to intrude on you every moment of the day – as if your door was always open to strangers.
Shambhu writes for the Pilgrimage Yoga Online blog. He’s also an accomplished guitarist and composer. Learn more at ShambhuMusic.com.
Image courtesy of arztsamui at FreeDigitalPhotos.net