Training Your Attention

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When the Buddha was asked about the most important training that one can do to achieve a peaceful mind, he replied, Attention!

Attention is the cognitive ability of concentrating your mind on an aspect of the environment, while discarding the rest. By using attention, you can be focused on what you need, becoming concentrated in the activity you want.

Having a good attentional skill has two main benefits:

  • It is attention the main ability required to have a good memory. Without attention you may miss the important data that you have to remember. It is by paying attention that you are able to remember the name of people. It is by paying attention that you can remember what you speed read. Attention allows you to focus better and become more competitive.
  • Attention training improves the mental quality of people, decreasing anxiety, depression and some mental disorders. Those benefits appear because you learn how to better focus your mind and stop your mind from rumiation and self focussing thoughts,

In previous posts, you have trained attention indirectly and sparsely. Now you are going to train it in a condensed manner. What follows is a series of workouts that will train your attention, most of them based on Mindfulness meditation since mindfulness main goal is to make us more aware of the present.

The Workout

There are 4 different workouts to do along the week. You must perform all of them every day of the week. Perform workouts 1 to 3 along 5 weeks. Perform Workout 0 for the rest of your life.

Workout 0: meditation

  • Perform meditation EVERY DAY.
  • If you don’t know how to meditate, learn how to do it by reading this article.
  • Start meditating 5 minutes a day. Each week increase 1 minute of meditation. Follow this article to progressively increase the meditation time.
  • Once reached 30 minutes a day, keep doing meditation forever.
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Workout 1: close attention to common things

  • Each week, select one simple and short activity that you perform everyday. Examples of those activities are:
    • Brushing your teeth
    • Washing the dishes
    • Having a shower
    • Walking/driving to work
    • Having lunch
  • Each day, when you perform that activity, pay complete attention to how you are doing it. Observe attentively what you feel, what your emotions are, and specially, how you are doing the activity.
  • It is very likely that, even if you want to concentrate on the observation, your mind wanders around other things. When you notice it, gently bring back your attention to the task.
  • On the next week, include another activity from the list, and do attentively both things.
  • Each new week include another activity to the thing you do attentively.

Workout 2: visual attention

  • Every day dedicate 5 minutes to train your visual attention.
  • Observe the place where you are now for a minute.
  • Try to capture all the details. It is very likely that you will miss a lot, but you will improve with training.
  • Then close your eyes and try to reproduce it in your mind for two minutes.
  • Repeat again, the observation and the recall, paying now more attention to what you missed.

Workout 3: active listening

  • Every time you interact with a person pay close attention to what the other person is saying.
  • Do not think about what you are going to say next, but instead, concentrate on what the other person is saying.
  • At the same time, observe yourself: how do you feel, which thoughts you have.
  • Once the other person finishes talking, think about what you want to express, and while you are talking, observe at the same time your status emotionally and physically.

Conclusions

Attention is the basis, of many intellectual skills. If you maintain it sharp you will perform a huge improvement in intelligence and productiveness. Now you know how to do it.

 

photo credit: Fadzly @ Shutterhack via photopin cc

photo credit: Stephen Poff via photopin cc

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