Do the things external which fall upon thee distract thee? Give thyself time to learn something new and good, and cease to be whirled around. But then thou must also avoid being carried about the other way; for those too are triflers who have wearied themselves in life by their activity, and yet have no object to which to direct every movement, and, in a word, all their thoughts. Marcus Aurelius, Meditations 2.7
The biggest challenge for getting things done quickly is the distraction of our mind. While we are completing one task, we easily get distracted by the thoughts of completing other tasks. It may look simple to be aware of the present moment, but when we actually focus on our thoughts, we find that we are spending most of our time thinking about the future events or the events that happened in the past. The thoughts of most of the people are dominated by either past or future events, making them less attentive to the present moment. This also makes them less productive at work.
It seems like it is not possible to concentrate on one thing for a long time, but according to some studies, Stoic mindfulness can improve an individual’s ability to focus on a task for a long time and be attentive to the small differences that they see. Mindfulness teaches us to be conscious of our thoughts and to pay attention to the present experiences. The practice of Stoicism has the power to increase concentration and improve our focus. It might seem tough to practice mindfulness at the beginning but consistent practice can give great results.
What is Stoic Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is to become aware of your emotions, thoughts and the circumstances. It is the ability of an individual to be in the present and to be conscious of what he is doing without judging the circumstances. Being mindful is not to overreact to the situations and to take decisions without thinking about the outcomes.
When Stoic mindfulness is practiced, the thoughts depend on the present moment and not the past or future events. We are attentive to our feelings and thoughts without actually judging them.
Mindfulness is beneficial in various ways. As it is to be aware of every present moment that keeps passing, we are fully conscious of physical sensations, thoughts, feelings and the surrounding environment. Basically, the practice of mindfulness helps us in achieving maximum awareness, thereby improving our concentration. Mindfulness can increase our concentration in three different ways. Let’s see them one by one.
Many people, including parents, employers and employees in leadership roles have been complaining that the attention span of people is considerably decreasing over the years. The attention span has become so much limited that it is affecting productivity. For this reason, mindfulness is on the rise for personal as well as professional development. These days, it is being practiced to improve attention, focus and for becoming productive. Mindfulness also helps in reducing stress as we don’t imagine much about negative future scenarios while being mindful of the present. Mindfulness calms your mind and this helps especially when we are stressed or overwhelmed.
It is difficult to regain momentum when you are distracted or stressed, but you can be on your path again by being attentive to one focal point. Your attention quality will determine whether you are in the present or you are distracted by some outside force. You must be wondering why you need to improve your attention when you are working well and focused when you are playing a sport or doing a hobby. When you use Stoic mindfulness for attention training, you can enhance your present experience and improve your mental efficiency. The work that you do will take lesser time to complete and the output will definitely be better.
When we talk about attention, it should be focused attention and not just casual attention. Practicing focused attention means you are able to be attentive and become aware that your mind has wandered and then redirect your focus. In focused attention, you need to direct your full attention to any one object of focus. If you find that your mind is wandering, you need to refocus the attention. You have to be continuously mindful of your thoughts so that you are always attentive.
Attention is to focus your mind and awareness is to observe whether your mind is still attentive. Attention practiced through mindfulness can help in increasing concentration. It is tough to hold your attention but when you notice the difficulties, you can improve your attention, thereby enhancing the concentration skills.
Memory and concentration are the two most critical skills and are directly related to each other. When people complain that their memory is getting weaker and they are not able to remember things, it is actually nothing to do with memory. The failure to remember things is due to a lack of focus on the task they are performing. For instance, if you have kept your glasses somewhere and do not remember where you kept, it is because you did not pay much attention while keeping the glasses.
As we age, our brain takes more time for processing information and focusing attention on the task becomes tough as it needs some effort. Even other functions of our brain decline making it harder to focus on something and ignore distraction. So, what can be done to improve memory and concentration?
The most important solution is to keep our brain healthy. This can be done by exercising every day, taking balanced diet and managing the stress. Regular exercising helps in enhancing our memory and boosting our thinking skills. It also helps in reducing stress levels. Even the practice of mindfulness helps in enhancing memory. Many studies and researches have confirmed the positive effects of mindfulness on our brain. If regularly practiced, we can focus our mind better, allowing us to remember things for a long time.
This can, in turn, improve our concentration as we become aware of our present circumstances. When you are mindful, you are attentive to the current events and moments. When you are able to memorize things better, you can finish the tasks quicker, allowing you to concentrate on other tasks. You can also practice by reading the information slowly for retaining it better for enhancing memory. As we age, our processing speed decreases. So, by reading slowly you are giving enough time for the brain to process information and allowing it to retain the required information.
Studies suggest that curiosity makes the brain happy and enhance the memory of an individual. Curiosity helps you to learn quickly and makes it easier for you to remember something that you learnt. When you are curious, you will be able to remember even the incidental information even though it is not directly related to the thing you were curious about.
If you want to learn new things, you need to be open-minded and curious. The researchers found out that when the people are curious, the activity in their brain’s reward area was higher. For a matter of fact, when something is learnt with an emotional component, it lasts longer than the content without any emotional component.
So, if you want to stay curious, you need to keep asking about everything you like. It is this habit that will help you to retain more information and enhance your concentration. When you are always curious, you will want to gain more information and therefore you will not have any judgment or preconceived notion about the people or any situation. Being curious means you will concentrate more on what is happening currently. You will be aware of your thoughts and the present situation and make judgments without worrying about the outcome. When you concentrate on one task at a time, you will also be able to retain that information better. You will also be able to recall the events exactly as happened and make decisions without being judgmental. Thus, curiosity not only enhances the memory but also improve concentration power of an individual.
In this technologically advanced age, where information is easy to get, many people struggle to focus on their task and get distracted very easily. The endless distractions and interruptions will make it harder to focus and be attentive to the task. Maintaining attention is important for keeping our thoughts and emotions relevant to the goals. This can be achieved by practicing mindfulness on a regular basis. Many studies have suggested that mindfulness offers various benefits to the individual. It helps you to be attentive to the task at hand and this, in turn, improves concentration and mental efficiency.
Stoic mindfulness techniques are also said to enhance the memory power so that you recall the things easily when required. When you are conscious of your emotions, thoughts and surroundings, you will be able to solidify the events better. Overall, mindfulness is effective in increasing the focus and improving the concentration level of the people.