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Meditation and focus

Meditating on a regular basis improves focus and research shows it can help us stay on task longer, switch between tasks less frequently and enjoy tasks more.[1]

Our modern lifestyles have us multi-tasking at a near non-stop pace. Our use of technology from our laptops, mobile devices, emails, internet searches and social media accounts can serve as distractions that make staying on task more difficult. Bringing our focus back to what we need to get done can feel like arm wrestling with our minds. 

Meditations that offer something for your mind to focus on such as your breath, body sensing, a repeated phrase, a visual or the guide’s voice can give your mind something to anchor your thoughts into and keep your focus. With regular practice, you can sharpen your focus and discipline your mind to put your attention where you want it. Without any effort on our part to direct our thoughts, they will stay connected to something that occurred in the past or project into the future. Usually, we cycle between the past and move to the future in our minds collecting and taking all our stress and problem with us. Where we normally don’t connect is with right here in the present moment and that’s where the focus takes place. Meditation helps keep us in the present moment and trains our minds to come back here and stay in this moment.

Staying present and focus

In my own experience with meditation, I learnt that multitasking caused more stress and I never felt like I accomplished much. My mind and actions were already onto the next task before I completed what I was doing. Meditation taught me to take on one job at a time, do it, complete it and move on. It felt so much better. It helps to keep the other distractions at bay – the niggle to check my phone, write that quick email or take a peek at social media. I stop and check-in with how I feel and when it all starts getting scattered, I know I’ve lost focus. Regular meditation practice also has given me the tools to re-focus and start again. No guilt, no judgment. I catch myself wandering and bring my mind back to the task at hand.

Tips for meditations that help with focus

1. After you’ve settled your body into a comfortable position to meditate. Seated or lying down. Set your intention mentally to stay present and focused during your meditation.

2. Choose the style of meditation that works best for you. Common techniques that work well for focusing our attention are following your breath, the inhale to the end and the exhale, body sensing where you focus on the internal sensation of parts of your body, a mindful approach to what you hear, feel or think and then let it go, a repeated phrase such as an affirmation or the voice of a guided meditation.

3. Chose a place relatively free of disturbances. No phones. Give yourself the best chance to take this small amount of time for yourself. 

4. Use the time that you have available. If it’s 10 minutes, chose an 8-minute meditation. Don’t rush through just to get it done.

5. Be kind to yourself. There is no failure here and no judgement if your mind was really active during the meditation. It’s the noticing that the mind wandered off to its habitual thoughts that counts. Take a breath in and re-focus. 

Rest & Be’s Mindful and Meditation Bites meditations work particularly well for strengthening and sharpening your focus. These meditations don’t have background music which may help in keeping your focus on the guidance. The Mindful meditations that focus on your senses – Breath, Body, Hearing, Seeing and Touch are especially effective. Meditation Bites in our Courses section go deeper into observing and dealing with thoughts during a meditation. 

With gratitude, Theresa