We’ve talked about pace, which goes a long way to quieting the mind—you just can’t be frantic when you mindfully slow down. Well, you could try, but it’d be really hard—way too much effort, I reckon!
We also talked about worry and strategies to relieve some of that clutter—and that’s just what it is. Clutter.
Here, we’ll look at focus.
Focus on focus, even.
Do a stocktake
How many things are you thinking about right now?
Focus is about honing in on purpose—not on our grand purpose in life (if there is such a thing?!), but our purpose and responsibility in each moment.
Say, we’re racing to a meeting, thinking about dinner and oh, shit, we need to pay our phone bill. And—when did we last wash our hair?
What is our sole responsibility in this moment?
It’s not dinner or bills or hair—it’s not even the meeting itself.
It’s simply getting there. We just have to get there.
Focus is about sifting through all the I-don’t-know-what-better-word-to-use-than-crap in our minds—sifting through the crap to get to the good stuff.
I don’t know about you, but my mind is full of all sorts of crap!
Choosing what I want to do with my life is like trying to watch a YouTube video. When I’m halfway through the video, I glance over at the sidebar and see they’re recommending something else that seems more interesting.
~ Human from Humans of New York, September 11, 2015
This quote’s a beautiful example of the mindset in our world today.
We seem to be constantly distracted by better, quicker, stronger, easier—other.
Pretty much anything other than what we’ve got or what we’re doing, right?
But, it’s all in our minds. Our minds are little balls of ego (and crap!) that just constantly scream for attention.
So, every time we find ourselves drifting, drowning, flailing in thoughts—
Stocktake. Take stock.
What am I doing right now? What’s important in this very moment?
And, just do that.
Switch it off
It sounds so simple, doesn’t it? Ha!
As with everything we’re talking about in this mindful series—it all takes practice. What we’re aiming to raise here is awareness because we can’t change what we’re not aware of.
Something I think we’re all aware of is our digital media use.
How much are you online? You’re online right now—so am I. We need to get off!
No, please don’t. Just give us a minute.
One of the most surefire ways to shut off distraction (and this one is actually so simple, but it’s disguised as difficult)—put our phones down.
They’ve become the centre of the universe—they live next to the bed, on the desk, on the bus, at the supermarket, at the restaurant, on the bog (apparently?!).
Seriously—put it down (the toilet and flush the darned thing!).
No, they do have their uses, but there have got to be times when we switch off. Leave it at home (on purpose!). Lock it up and throw away the key.
If that does feel like cutting off a limb, take this first step—remove any distracting apps from your phone. I took FB off mine and it was the best thing I ever did.
No more aimless, mindless scrolling.
Then, see how much you miss your phone when it’s just a good old phone again?
And, we’ll be doing our poor phones a favour—as much as we’re finding our focus, they just want theirs back!
If you’re interested in a study done on phone use, this TED talk is a doozy.
Time for silence
Actually, speaking of that TED talk—it’s all about boredom leading to brilliant ideas. When we give our minds space and quiet, that’s when the magic happens.
How often do we give ourselves quiet time? We’re not talking complete silence because that doesn’t exist, but say—no music in our ears as we’re walking down the street, no TV on while we’re eating dinner, no radio on in the car, no phone notifications dinging at all hours?
Just taking in the sounds around us—paying attention, creating connection.
How often do we give ourselves time to find the magic?
I’ll admit—I’m a sucker for telly. Oh, I love it. I had to force myself to cancel my Netflix account because I was loving it too much. I’d have it on in the background and whatever I was doing would take 10 times longer because I was distracted—it’s never just background.
It’s noise. Noisy noise. Ain’t no magic there!There’s an exercise that you can do when you have a spare minute (if you want to!)—maybe first thing in the morning or before you go to sleep.
This is an exercise from Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now—
Lie down and close your eyes. Breathe deeply. In and out.
Start to send your breath to different parts of your body. Really focus your attention on your hands and arms, your belly, legs and feet.
Stay with each focus until you start to feel a tingle and then move on.
From the top of your head to the tips of your toes.
Really feel that tingle—such a good word! Do you feel it?
That’s your life energy—you’re full of it (in a good way!).
But, we miss it. We don’t hear it or feel it because we fill our time and space with so much stuff and so much noise.
We need to switch our focus from being thinking feeling humans to being feeling thinking humans.
Thinking is judgement. Feeling is experience.
We’re never going to be one or the other, that’s not the goal—but we should create the intention to feel more than think.
To experience more than judge—or analyse or dwell or worry!
Because feeling is energy and where do we find it?
In the quiet.
The best cure for the body is a quiet mind.
~ Napoleon Bonaparte