Mindfulness can increase concentration

By being mindful, you can keep yourself concentrated on what matters the most.

Mindfulness is catching the attention of many and for good reason. The common definition of mindfulness is paying attention on purpose without judgment. In the book “Buddha’s Brain” by Rick Hanson Ph.D. ND Richard Mendius MD; They provide an extended definition. They describe mindfulness as having control over yourself in such a way that you can place attention wherever you want and it stays there. When you want to shift it to something else, you can. They go on to state that when your attention is steady, so is your mind: Not rattled or hijacked by whatever pops up into awareness. Developing a greater control of your attention is perhaps the single most powerful way to reshape your brain and thus your mind.

Teachers, parents, employers and anyone is leadership roles are all saying that the attention span of people is decreasing or more limited. Mindfulness, is therefore, on the rise as professional and personal development. In businesses, schools and hospitals people are learning mindfulness or meditative practices to become more productive, improve attention, heal faster or in general to feel less stressed.

The authors' established five factors of concentration:
  1. Applied Attention – initial directing of attention to an object, such as your breath
  2. Sustained Attention – Staying focused on the object of attention, such as remaining aware of the entire inhalation from beginning to end
  3. Rapture – Intense interest in the object; sometimes experienced as a rush of blissful sensations
  4. Joy – Gladdening of the heart that includes happiness, contentment and tranquility
  5. Singleness of Mind – Unification of awareness in which everything is experienced as a whole

If you are like me, it is difficult to hold your attention or to concentrate for long periods of time. It doesn’t take me long until your get tired of holding my attention or frustrated with having to filter out distractions or desire for stimulation. These three difficulties (holding on, filtering distractions and desired stimulation) are common and many can improve their attention once they notice these difficulties and then apply the five factors above to increase their concentration skills.

Michigan State University Extension provides community-based personal and professional development programming on social-emotional health topics that can help your increase your concentration skills. One series they provide is called Stress Less with Mindfulness that is offered as a five-six session series. Peruse their website to find an event near you. 

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