Meditation Improves Focus and Attention

Many of us feel stressed because we’re trying to do more than one thing at a time. Maybe we’re talking on the phone while reading emails, looking at social media while one of our kids is trying to get our attention. As neuroscientists have discovered, the conscious brain cannot multitask. If I’m speaking to you and checking emails at the same time, I’m doing neither fully present. Meditation helps you to train your brain to stay focused on the task at hand rather than letting our attention be pulled away by every passing thought and distraction. This one-pointed attention makes you more effective and thus, less stressed.

In a randomized, controlled study, a group of university undergraduates who practiced mindfulness and meditation for only two weeks experienced a significant improvement in their ability to focus on a task without becoming distracted. In addition, the study participants improved their working memory capacity.

Start by creating a daily “tech break” for yourself. Turn your phone off for a full hour each day. Listen to the sound of the birds singing, the laughter of children from a distance, the sound of the lawnmower next door.  Allow yourself to settle in to the silence. Return to nature for at least ten minutes each day. Allow the sun to touch and warm your cheek. Just be in the moment without distraction. Train yourself to take this time out each day. Or begin a daily meditation practice. Start small. Find five to ten minutes today to just sit with your eyes closed and just “be.” My guess is that as you start this practice, you will find it difficult to settle down and even more difficult to stop the internal chatter that seems endless! That’s ok. That actually IS the practice of meditation! It is in the noticing of that very chatter that is the beginning to your awakening to the silence that is always present.

Keep practicing. Don’t give up on yourself. No amount of time spent cultivating your spiritual self is ever wasted. Just start where you are!