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How To Focus When Feeling Unfocused

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Have you ever entered a room, intent on accomplishing some task, but forgotten what that task was? This happens to me all of the time. I’ll be struck by an idea that I feel is brilliant, get up to implement that idea, and then promptly forget it.

It happens to the best of us. The human mind wanders about half of the time it is awake and active. When we try to engage the world during these moments of wandering, the end result is typically forgetfulness.

What happens when you go back to the last point of focus? You often remember what you were supposed to be doing, right? This means you can encourage the mind to become focused once again, even if you are currently feeling unfocused.

Here are some of the ways I’ve discovered that the unfocused mind can decide to start focusing once again.

#1. Decide right now to manage your time wisely. Distractions are everywhere these days. Advertisements, social media notifications, text messages – the list is enormous. Each of us has certain distractions that pull at our focus. The best way to manage this issue is to make the decision to manage these distractions, these temptations, so a more focused control can be obtained.

Block websites you might want to visit. Unplug your internet if need be. Turn off your smartphone. Spend a specific time in your email each day and no more. The issue here is seduction. These distractions seduce your mind into believing that an unfocused state is better than staying focused. Your job is to convince your mind that the opposite is true.

#2. Take a moment to evaluate before taking action. Ever notice how some people are always throwing “word bombs” on their social media accounts? Written words are just as powerful as spoken words, maybe even more so, yet so many don’t give a second thought to what they post on their profiles. People will take you seriously when you say, “If you believe this, then don’t speak to me again.” Or “If you vote a certain way, you are no friend of mine.”

Careless words create disorder and mayhem because they are a result of an unfocused mind. Before saying something or writing something, step back for a moment and give it a second thought. How will other people perceive what you’re about to say? Consciously tell your mind to be focused. I’ve found this simple act can help avoid saying words that might be regretted one day and be able to return to the more important tasks that may need to be completed.

#3. Place an emphasis on mindfulness meditation. Mindfulness meditation can be practiced anywhere and at any time. Stop for a moment and feel the wind on your skin. Remember a favorite memory and experience every detail. Feel your breath move in and out of your chest. Endure the silence which may be around you.

This has been my biggest struggle. The unfocused mind rebels at the thought of being more focused just like your muscles rebel during a long workout when exercise has been neglected for a few days. If you keep your will strong and continue this habit, however, the rebellion subsides over time and a more consistently focused mind becomes the end result.

Sometimes we need to feel unfocused just so we can have an escape from the day. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s a natural defensive mechanism. It becomes an issue when being unfocused interferes with the goals that we have in life.

These are the ways that have helped me to find my focus more often each day. How do you find your focus? I’d love to hear about some of the ways you’ve been able to focus when you’re feeling unfocused.

6 Ways To Make Mindfulness a Higher Priority

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Mindfulness allows us to really wake up and experience our lives. Instead of coasting through each day, looking forward to a point that we think might bring us happiness, mindfulness gives us a different perspective. It allows us to find what happiness exists in each moment that we experience. Making mindfulness a higher priority can be difficult when you first get started, so here are a few ways you can reach your goals.

#1. Be patient with yourself.

When society says that you deserve everything right now, it becomes an unconscious expectation that you reach your goals rapidly. Some goals, like making mindfulness a higher priority, can take months or years to reach their maximum potential. Allow yourself the gift of patience, take one day at a time, and look for the small successes that come your way.

#2. Get to know yourself once again.

The modern life has many demands. The amount of information that we share and absorb from others is astronomical. It can be easy to lose yourself in all of this data. Sometimes spending some time unplugged from the rest of the world to get to know yourself once again can make mindfulness easier to find.

#3. Be brave.

Prioritizing mindfulness can be very difficult sometimes because it forces you to face your darkest demons. We all have hidden recesses in our minds that we don’t like to access because there is guilt, regret, and pain lurking there. Mindfulness will eventually help you be able to heal from these difficult emotions, but it takes bravery to confront it head-on during the early days of mindfulness. Remember: three steps forward, but two steps back is still one net step forward.

#4. It’s not just about yourself.

One of the most unique aspects of mindfulness comes when it is combined with loving-kindness meditation. As you focus on the small moments that exist around you, think about how those moments affect others. Send blessings to family and friends as you ponder these moments and you’ll find that your emotional intelligence will dramatically increase over the coming weeks.

#5. Join a community for accountability.

We can justify our lack of mindfulness in many different ways when we practice it on our own. Maybe there wasn’t enough time in the day. Maybe the kids were sick. Maybe there is a project at work with a tight deadline that requires all of your attention. Pretty soon mindfulness takes a permanent spot on the back burner. By joining a community which focuses on daily mindfulness, your new friends will help to keep you accountable to its daily practice.

#6. Give yourself space.

Although mindfulness can be practiced virtually anywhere, it is still important to have a peaceful spot that is all your own. By creating a dedicated space for mindfulness and other forms of meditation, you’ll be naturally prioritizing it each day. Look for a space that will minimize distractions so you can maximize your results.

Making mindfulness a higher priority can seem like an insurmountable task sometimes, but with a little proactive work it can be easy to accomplish. Consider these ideas, add them to your routine as appropriate, and you may just find the path of least resistance to happiness.

How Leadership Improves With Mindfulness Meditation

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Executives are embracing mindfulness meditation in droves because they are seeing real benefits from this ancient practice in their lives. Not only does it make stress levels manageable for them, but it provides them with a number of additional advantages which are able to make them more effective at what they do for a living.

These same benefits and advantages also apply to everyone who may be in a leadership position. Here is why mindfulness meditation is quickly becoming a billion dollar industry and why you should consider adding this to your lifestyle in 2016.

#1: It makes you resilient. Mindfulness helps people to center themselves. When people are able to stay balanced, then anxiety levels are naturally reduced. Consistent balance makes people become more resilient against circumstances that can cause others to lose their composure. It gives people an outlet to find their own place of peace. Just 20 minutes of calm can make a world of difference.

#2: It boosts emotional intelligence levels. Have you ever had a co-worker or a supervisor who always seemed to know what you were thinking or feeling? There’s a good chance that this person was regularly practicing mindfulness meditation. Being mindful of each moment in each day brings us an awareness of how others are feeling around us. This allows us to work better in teams together because we can focus on our strengths and not be stepping on sensitive emotional cues.

#3: It enhances creativity. Mindfulness meditation taps directly into the creative centers of the brain. When the mind becomes bogged down by stress, anxiety, or responsibilities, then one of the first things that shuts down is the creative parts of the mind. Even fatigue can be enough to stop creativity. Mindfulness brings creativity back because it gives the mind a real chance to rest.

#4: It can improve your relationships. Stress creates tunnel-vision. It makes people miss all of the things that are happening around them because they’re so focused on one solitary negative element. When your mood is boosted because of mindfulness meditation, then the connections you have with others are increased as well. The end result is a stronger connection that is focused on compassion instead of self-preservation.

#5: It improves your focus. During the average day, you face an average of 20,000 decisions. Many of these choices wind up being distractions that take you away from work that needs to get done. Mindfulness meditation helps you choose to stay focused instead of checking Facebook for status updates or reading through your list of emails again.

So why is mindfulness meditation so difficult to include in the modern lifestyle? Because it is often seen as another task which needs to be completed. We refused to find time for it because we see life as already being “too busy.” Why add another responsibility? Yet when mindfulness meditation is embraced, the results can begin to be experienced in as little as 4 days with 20 minutes of daily meditation.

This is why mindfulness meditation enhances a person’s leadership qualities and abilities. If you’re not including this practice into your daily routine, then give it a try this week. You might just find the results you experience to be life-changing.

5 Essential Habits That Help You Find Your Zen

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There are days when it seems like peace can never be found. Forget about finding your zen. You’re just trying to get through your day without letting your stress completely overwhelm you, right? These essential habits, when added to your daily routines, really do help you find your zen in even the most stressful of situations.

1. Just Do One Thing

Today we multi-task without even realizing what we’re doing. I’m listening to Billy Joel as I’m writing this. Although Uptown Girl is a great song, I’m actually doing 3 things at once. I’m listening to the music, writing these words, and singing along to the song in my head. Finding your zen means doing just one thing at a time. Pick a task, do that task, then move onto the next task. It is an elegant form of time management.

2. Always Give 100%

You hear athletes say all the time that they’re giving “110%” or “150%” or some other strange number to describe how they gave it their all in a game, during a play, or while at practice. It is an expression which really means you have 100% to give. If you’re only giving 80% of your passions to a project, step it up to give it everything you’ve got. By giving your all, you will focus your physical and mental energy to the task at hand.

3. Learn to Let Things Go

We must be willing to take care of ourselves before we try to complete our singular tasks throughout the day. A healthy mind and healthy body lead to more productivity and peace. To find your zen, you must be willing to let go of the extra tasks that can interfere with your well-being. Make sure that your schedule allows you to take time for your core needs. Have a cup of tea. Read a book. Go out with friends. This will allow you to see difficult tasks in a more creative way.

4. Make It Simple

Life doesn’t have to be complicated. We have many things we feel are necessary to complete every day, but far too often we confuse our wants and needs for the opposite. Simplify life so that you focus on only the essentials that are needed for a good quality of life. Eliminate the items in life that are non-essential, but rob you of precious time.

5. Feed Your Spiritual Life

You give yourself physical nourishment every day – even water counts. You take time to keep your mind healthy. Yet far too many people feel like there isn’t time to feed their spiritual life. We’re not talking about a specific religion here. We’re just talking about what your faith, your observations, your experiences, and your moral coding means to you. It is important to explore these aspects of life just as it is important to drink water or eat healthy foods.

Being able to find your zen can help you accomplish more every day. It can help you find peace in a world full of chaos. Adopt these habits into your daily routines and you may find that the stress which has bothered you for so long has finally melted away.

6 Tips To Give the Gift of Mindfulness This Year

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The holiday season is filled with plenty of stress. From finding the perfect gift to dealing with your uncle’s terrible jokes, there are multiple ways that the holiday season can break us down. This is why giving others the gift of mindfulness this year, even if they don’t know that they’re receiving it, can bring you a higher peace as you go about your day. Here are 6 easy tips to begin giving this gift.

#1. When Driving

You’re stuck in traffic during the morning commute. Some dude just cut you off and made you slam on your brakes. There’s a pedestrian in the crosswalk when you’ve got the green light and they’re just standing there, staring at you like it’s your fault that they can’t move out of the way. Driving can create a lot of stress. By giving these strangers the gift of mindfulness, you can let this moments of frustration go. Let’s face it – will you remember what happened on the road today even a month from now?

#2. While Eating

Grandma might be making her syrupy sweet tea. Your father might be camped out in front of the TV watching football, spreading cheesy puffs everywhere. Your plate might be full of turkey, ham, sweet potatoes, and everything else. Instead of inhaling the foods just so you can get through them, try to find one thing you appreciate about every meal, snack, and treat you get. There’s even something great about Grandma’s tea, even if you feel like you need a visit to the dentist afterward.

#3. While Speaking

One awesome way to give the gift of mindfulness is to practice active listening. Have you ever noticed how easy it is to try to interrupt someone because there is an important point you have to make “right now?” Hear what people are telling you, repeat it back to them so you know you’re on the same page, and you will have a delightful experience.

#4. While Relaxing

It’s fun to zone out sometimes in front of a favorite movie. You might be eating snacks during the big game without a second thought. Relaxing is the perfect time to give the gift of mindfulness. Enjoy how your body relaxes. Observe how others are relaxing around you. Take a few deep breaths if you’re in the middle of a football triple-header. It will bring everyone closer together.

#5. While Working

Your boss is giving you the stink eye. Your mother wants you to help wash all the holiday dishes even though you cooked most of the meal. You have a project that is overdue and your client is breathing down your neck. Mindfulness in this circumstance means putting yourself into the shoes of the other person. See life from their perspective. Feel what they are feeling. This understanding can then give you the boost of energy you need to get through any task.

#6. While in the Moment

There is no limit to your giving the gift of mindfulness. It can be extended at any time. If you feel stress, anger, sadness, or other difficult emotions or circumstances are close, then utilize what mindfulness can provide.

Of course you will be controlling and experiencing each moment when you give the gift of mindfulness. The end result is that your interactions with others will be calm and consistent. Don’t let the varying stressors of the holiday season get to you. Use mindfulness to get through the tough times and you will indeed have a happy holidays.

If You’re Tired of Painkillers, Then Try Meditation

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According to research published in the Journal of Neuroscience, the practice of mindfulness meditation brings people a greater level of pain relief than a placebo alone. The findings show that meditation changes the brain patterns of those practicing it when compared to people using a placebo cream to control pain.

Led by Dr. Fadel Zaidan, who has already noted that meditation affects everything from expectation levels to a person’s moral beliefs, the enhanced cognitive function of the brain that comes from meditation could be the key to experiencing pain relief when chronic pain is present.

What is Mindfulness Meditation?

Mindfulness meditation focuses on the recognition of momentary events. Every second offers us all something new and unique to discover. This discovery process can occur emotionally, through cognitive events, or even through a person’s senses.

Because time is relative, we often take these brief moments and expand them to make them seem longer than they are. Sometimes different what-if scenarios will also be included. Some people even expand these thoughts into an alternative timeline that they live in from time to time as a way to reflect on past choices. This process often leads to negative emotional responses, regret, and even pain.

Mindfulness meditation changes that perspective. Instead of allowing the mind to return to the habit of creating more time out of a moment, it allows people to see a moment for what it really is: a brief moment of time. Instead of expanding it, in essence mindfulness freezes that moment and allows it to be fully explored.

How Does This Reduce Pain Levels?

Pain is essentially communication to the brain. Mindfulness changes the brain’s perspective of that communication by activating certain regions, such as the orbitofrontal region, that affect a person’s self-control. Less pain is experienced because the signals aren’t interpreted as a severe warning like they normally might be.

According to Dr. Zaidan, it may only take four daily 20 minute mindfulness meditation sessions to begin experiencing this benefit.

This is exciting news for people who are dealing with pain on a regular basis. Instead of taking potentially dangerous medications, such as narcotics, to help control pain levels, they can use the power of their own mind to reroute pain signals so the discomfort can potentially begin to fade away. It won’t provide instant pain relief, but it could be an essential part of pain management treatment plans in the future.

Many studies involve pain-free research volunteers. More information and research about mindfulness meditation is still waiting to be discovered. Despite this, this research is incredibly exciting. There could be a lot of truth to the idea that you have the power to heal yourself.

Defeat Workplace Stress Using Mindfulness Meditation

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Stress is a major health problem for many workers and the issue only continues to grow. One of the primary reasons why stress levels are going up today is because many workers are only distracting themselves from the issues at hand. Using your mobile devices, watching TV, eating a favorite food… these are call distractions.

To relieve stress, it is necessary to cope with the difficult emotions and circumstances that have caused it in the first place. This is where mindfulness meditation can become a powerful tool to use. Instead of running away from the stress to deal with it on another day, it becomes possible to resolve stressful situations as they happen, leading to a healthier body and mind.

Why Is Stress So Bothersome?

Stress is an internal trigger which causes a personal crisis situation. It creates negative emotional energies that start a cycle of anger, bitterness, and/or resentment. As time goes on, a downward spiral forms as these events repeat themselves over and over again. The mind becomes focused only on the past.

To defeat stress, the past must not be allowed to continue operating as an internal trigger. With mindfulness meditation, the perspective shifts from the past to the present. Instead of worrying about what happened to create stress, the focus becomes on what is happening right now, at this one given moment, and to explore what this one given moment contains.

How Does Mindfulness Meditation Work?

Stress is best described as an iceberg. You’ll see a small portion of ice floating at the surface, but underneath lurks a dark and hidden amount of stress that is much larger than what others can see. Mindfulness meditation helps to melt this iceberg because it focuses on recovery instead of the stressful triggers.

After you’ve isolated yourself to begin your meditation, begin to explore your point of view. Why was so much stress created? Summarize the thoughts that come your way that look at your reactions. Then connect the stress to the feelings you’ve experienced.

Mindfulness meditation also offers alternatives to a stressful reaction that can be implemented almost anywhere. Deep breathing to explore your internal feelings can change a perspective. Even experiencing the textures and flavors of a favorite food can become a form of mindfulness meditation.

Mindfulness Meditation Requires Practice

Most workers decide to give up on mindfulness meditation because it doesn’t seem to work right away. Like any new habit or skill, this will take time to develop. Instead of giving yourself 2-3 days to experiment with it to control stress and internal triggers, give it 2-3 weeks instead. Keep practicing mindfulness meditation in different situations to discover where it can be the most beneficial.

Then you’ll be ready to go back to work with a focus on the present or the future instead of the stressful events of the past. Stress will always be around thanks to the high pressure professional environments that workers have every day. Using mindfulness meditation to control that stress can help every worker enter this environment prepared for the challenges they may face.

Could Mindfulness Meditation Help to Treat an Addiction?

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Addictions can be extremely difficult to defeat. They cause us to spend money on the wrong things and make decisions that are out of character. Even when we try to overcome an addiction, 7 out of 10 of us will eventually relapse back into whatever we’re abusing. Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a better way to overcome these harmful habits?

Mindfulness meditation might just be the solution. This is because the brain always has a desire to learn something new.

It’s All About Changing the Habit Loop

In the past, we were able to find rewards in our ability to sustain ourselves and our families. This positive habit loop would become a literal craving where our ancestors would literally be addicted to how they provided for themselves. This could be through hunting, gathering, or farming. We even see this somewhat today with the modern career.

And yes – work can become an addiction for someone just like drugs or alcohol can be one.

In our modern world, we’ve discovered how to replace those past rewards with something that provides immediate gratification. It becomes part of a negative habit loop because we’re looking to cope with a stressful and emotional situation. We become dependent on these substances to make us feel better, but there’s a catch: we don’t actually cope with the stress and negativity.

It still lingers there, festering until the next event that triggers a negative habit loop. Each negative loop is stronger than the previous one, which requires us to use more substances that can provide us with an immediate result which hides the painful encounter.

Mindfulness meditation changes the habit loop. It not only helps us to cope with those difficult situations, but it also provides the brain and the body with numerous positive benefits that encourage a change in habits. This, in turn, can help to defeat an addiction because it stops a negative cycle from its continuous looping.

Why Does Mindfulness Meditation Work?

The idea is simple: there is perfection to be found in any given moment of the day. In order to find that perfection, we must explore in every detail that moments we encounter. This means we use our senses like never before to experience each moment instead of simply living in each moment.

Let’s use a smoking addiction as an example. Many people smoke to relieve stress or provide themselves with a stimulant. Normally we would look at how smoking makes us feel, but mindfulness forces the mind to look outward. What does cigarette smoke actually smell like? Taste like? How does it change the environment?

By answering these questions, we can identify our negative habit loops. Once they’ve been identified, they can be changed.

For this to work, there must be a desire to want to change serving as the cornerstone of mindfulness. If someone does not really want to quit an addiction, then nothing will really help and a relapse is the likely result. For those who do wish to defeat an addiction once and for all, however, mindfulness meditation could be the key needed to unlock their full potential.

How You Can Begin To Practice Mindfulness Right Now

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We all have tough days. There’s a really bad one thrown in here and there for good measure too. When we’re practicing mindfulness, however, those difficulties melt into the background and become white noise. Here’s how you can get started right now.

#1. Feel your breath. Breathing in and breathing out is life itself working. Pay attention to the rhythm. Feel the sensations of each breath and what it does to your body.

#2. Connect your senses. Sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and the things we touch all create our existence. We take them for granted so often. Linger in the moment and enjoy what your senses are telling you. Then connect the different senses together to create a perfect moment.

#3. Pause in the silence. You don’t have to move onto the next task in your day right away. If you get started 2 minutes from now, the work will still get done. Pause in that 120 second silence and just experience those moments.

#4. Begin to actively listen. Instead of trying to state your opinion immediately, work on listening to what someone is actually saying. Repeat what you’ve heard them say back to them so you know you’re on the same page. Don’t listen to be negative or judgmental. Listen to learn.

#5. Do something incredible. We all have hobbies that we love, but they tend to get set aside so that more work can be accomplished. Schedule time in for your hobbies so you can be creative outside of your responsibilities. Get lost in the goal of doing or creating something incredible.

#6. You are what you eat. At least 3x per week, turn off the distractions that are around you at the dinner table. Shut off the computers, tablets, and phones. Leave the TV off. Maybe open a window if you can. Without the distractions, you get to experience the food in a different way. If you have a family, you’ll have a chance to connect with their day as well.

#7. Take a walk. Instead of pounding the pavement, try taking a walk that is light on the feet. Be aware of the strength of each footstep. You’re not trying to leave a trail on your sidewalk for others to follow. You’re trying to connect to the Earth without damaging it in some way.

#8. Meditate. 10-20 minutes of meditation every day can greatly enhance the experiences that mindfulness can provide. Adding this process can make all the difference in the world.

#9. Change things up. We are creatures of routine and that’s a good thing because it keeps us on schedule. It’s also a bad thing because we’re so used to our environment that we start ignoring what happens around us. By mixing up the routine from time to time, we can experience more of the world without sacrificing our schedule.

#10. Identify your thoughts. Instead of shutting out the thoughts you don’t like, observe them. Label them. Study them. See where they originate. Every action you take is a small step toward mindfulness.

You really can experience the world in a very different way thanks to mindfulness. Consider these options today so that you can begin immediately.

4 Simple Ways to Develop Concentration

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Many people notice they experience a lot of thoughts during their meditation practice. This is very common. Below are a list of tips to help you develop concentration so you can benefit more out of your meditation practice.

1. Focus on the candle flame prior to the meditation practice

Traditionally, beginners to meditation are taught to focus on the candle flame as an exercise to develop concentration. Light a candle and place it on your meditation table. With your eyes open, gently gaze at the candle flame for a few minutes prior to your meditation practice. When thoughts arise during this exercise, instead of following your thoughts, bring your mind back to the candle flame.

2. Use your physical activities as concentrated exercises

Throughout the day, use the physical activities you are engaging in as concentrated exercises. For example, instead of multitasking while eating your lunch during a work day, take your eyes off the mobile device or computer and just eat. Take a few moments to appreciate your meal. How does your meal smell like? Does the color combination of your meal look pleasing to your eyes? Have a moment of gratitude to the person who has made your meal. Take the first bite of your meal with total concentration and appreciation. How does the meal taste like?

Another example, when washing dishes, treat it as a concentration exercise. Focus on applying the dishwashing liquid on the dishes thoroughly. Use the sponge to fully wash dishes inside and out. Rinse the dishes with water. Feel the water running through your fingers. When your mind drift to something else, bring your mind back to the activity of dishwashing.

3. Do one thing at the time

Take a few minutes to observe how you work. Do you write a document, answer emails, answer instant messages, and facilitate a conference call at the same time? The myth is: the more you multitask, the more you accomplish. The fact is multitasking slows down and prolongs the duration to complete a task. Multitasking is designed for computers and is not for human beings. Focus on doing one task at the time. You will accomplish the task sooner and with higher quality.

4. Developing concentration is a process

Developing concentration is a process. It takes time and patience to master concentration. Develop the power of concentration gradually. As you develop your concentration, you can apply the concentration to the meditation techniques during your meditation practice. Focus on the techniques as hard as you can during your meditation practice. The better you’re able to concentrate, the better you’ll be able to focus on the meditation techniques during your meditation practice.

Not only developing concentration will help you meditate better and be more productive, it will also help you live in the moment. Bill Keane says, “Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift.” Don’t miss out the possibility of living in the present moment fully.

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