It seems that focus is something we don’t have much of in this crazy multi-tasking world. With our iphones hooked up to social media and the internet, we have endless hours of exploration right at our finger tips. We are accessible EVERYWHERE on phone and email and saying “no” when it beckons isn’t something many of us do. So when you sit down to read something, ANYTHING, it’s no wonder your brain jumps to EVERYTHING BUT what you are reading! Dr Edward Hallowell, author of Crazy Busy and behavioral psychologist, says that our multi-tasking technological society is making us all ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder). I hate to say but I agree.

Try it. Carve out sometime today to JUST read, something, ANYTHING. See what your brain does. Does it immediately jump into the material with happy abandon free from all the tasks of the day? OR is it jumping around to the call you need to make, the email you should send or the errand you want to run? Some people find they need to put the TV or music on in order to focus because they are so accustomed to “tuning things out” in order to concentrate. And sadly, a few others, can never get the focus needed to read so they just don’t.

What I have personally found is when I can get calm in my body and mind to achieve the mono-focusing state needed to read, I love it! It’s like life is simple again. I can immerse myself into another place (when reading fiction) or into world affairs (which reminds me there IS a world outside of mine!). My heartbeat is slow, usually around 60 beats per minute which is a resting heart rate, and my body is relaxed. My brain is ready to receive.

So how can you do this? First by being aware of your monkey brain and trying to find ways to quiet it. Here are a few ideas:

  • Dump it out – If your mental to-do list keep coming up, write it down. The brain will be happy to know you dumped it out.
  • Add movement to your days – Your body will allow your mind to relax once it’s been exercised. I personally get more focus on the days I exercise.
  • Be one with yourself  – I find that taking walks, even with music in my ears, is very helpful for getting my thoughts worked out so when I sit down to read, I’m more ready.
  • Take up Yoga – I’m fond of yoga for many reasons, but especially for it’s  ability to make me focus on the moment, not the past or the future. If you decide to get started, try a gentle yoga class.
  • Practice intentional breathing – learning to focus ONLY on your breathing, even for 3 minutes, is a great exercise for starting to get more focus.
  • Try meditation – now here’s something we ALL need! Time to just breath and focus on one thing. It’s not easy! Learning to get the extraneous thoughts out of our heads is a lifelong challenge.
  • Read more often! – If you read often, then the monkey brain won’t need to be tamed as often. It will know you mean business will immediately calm down.

Wishing you more focus!


Image via Creative Common

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