I’ve been hearing this message over and over these days.
And, am loving this word.
About 6 weeks ago, I started doing a daily concentration practice to prepare for a 4-day silent retreat coming up this next weekend. You pick one object to concentrate on and I chose clarity of the mind.
In preparation, I’ve been studying and contemplating about concentration. Oddly, I can’t think of any time in my life I ever put so much attention on this.
Incredible really because concentration is essential to feeling more content and satisfied.
And, how wonderful it feels when you’re not cluttering your mind up needlessly.
It’s like a mind massage without even doing anything – just dropping distractions. You feel this lightness like all this baggage in your mind has been lifted.
Imagine your mind being fully concentrated for a moment.
Because concentration is such a delight, I’m sharing tips below to help you move too in that direction.
10 Tips to Overcome Your Distractions
1. Name Your Distractions
Naming leads to awareness which sets the path for reducing distractions. You got to really get clear on them before letting them go don’t you. The simplest way to do this is by keeping a piece of paper near you for the next couple of days. Every time a distraction arises – great – write it down. That’s it.
2. Avoid Distractions
If you’re clear on some of your distractions already, pick one that you can start avoiding. Even if it’s committing to not indulging in it for 15 minutes. For example, you could put your phone in your bag when you go to lunch and not check it for 15 minutes.
3. Transform Distractions
Say that you distract yourself by checking emails while you’re on a conference call. Rather than turn off your email notifications or shut it down, simply see it differently. Imagine it’s the way you pay attention to other people’s needs.
If that’s the case, you’d want to give your undivided attention to these mails as if the person were standing in front of you. It can become an object of concentration for you.
4. Investigate Underlying Causes
There’s this great word in Thai my friend taught me. It’s – kayook – and it means to pull on things like a string. The purpose being to get to the bottom of things you got to keep going deeper in to understand.
For example, if you’re distracting yourself a lot with worrying, step back. Ask yourself. What’s the positive reason you’re letting worries distract you. Then, for that answer ask yourself what’s more important than that result. And, then keep repeating 3-4 times. This will give you a lot of clarity.
5. Get Familiar with Concentration
Here’s a practice I love doing. The Pomodoro Technique. You focus on a single piece of work for 25 minutes (what they call a Pomodoro) and set a timer. During that time, you focus solely on that work. Then, you take a 5 minute break ideally to move like doing jumping jacks, maybe drink some water, and keep technology off limits.
6. Spend Time Around Concentrated People
Don’t you feel the energy when you’re with people that are constantly distracted? Checking their phones, eyes wandering, not listening to what you’re saying. It’s easy to do isn’t it. An easy way to get familiar with concentration is to spend time with others that have similar values. Simply being in their presence will teach you a lot.
7. Identify Habits Supporting Your Distractions
You can probably list them out in your head and that’s not the best place to store this information. Get it out on paper.
You could even do a mind map starting with concentration branching out to different areas of your life – family, friends, work, health. These habits could include not addressing your worries, checking your phone a lot, twirling your hair, multi-tasking. See an example here.
8. Notice Your Underlying Beliefs
Everything you think, say, and do comes from what you believe deep down. Things like – You’ve got to multi-task. If you don’t check, you may miss something. Calm is lazy and boring. Start noticing and then begin turning them around to support a higher level of concentration.
9. Reflect on Being Distracted
Remember times where you’ve been really distracted. Take a step back and simply witness. What was going on? Where were you at? What time of day was it? What if you kept letting yourself go in that direction? What’s your worst case scenario?
10. Imagine Being a Concentrated Person
This tip is crucial. In order to become a concentrated person, you’ve got to see yourself becoming one. So, let yourself daydream about this a few minutes a day. Just imagine being totally and fully concentrated. What would you look like? What would you be saying to yourself? To others? What would you be doing?
Please remember distractions are dangerous. They’re not innocent.
If you wish to feel more content and less distracted, start practicing some of these tips. Each one is self-contained so you can experiment with what’s a fit. If you decide not to do anything, you’re actually going down the path of Tip 9. Take advantage of what you can learn from this experience.
What seems like the most doable thing to practice with now?
I’m personally focusing on Tip 5, Tip 6, and Tip 10.
Love to share insights if you post on this blog or write to me directly.