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Published on April 19, 2021

5 Ways Meditation Improves Your Daily Focus and Concentration

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5 Ways Meditation Improves Your Daily Focus and Concentration

Have you ever felt so overwhelmed by something that you just couldn’t focus or concentrate on anything at all? Every so often, this also happens to me. In fact, it happens to the best of us. And if your lifestyle is anything like mine, you work hard and play hard, always trying to perform at peak performance, always trying to make the most out of every opportunity that comes your way, and determined to accomplish whatever it is that you put your mind to—no matter how many obstacles get in your way.

Nevertheless, regardless of your mental acumen and acuity—after all is said and done—you are only human, you can only do so much and go so far without having to take a break every now and then to recharge. Not to mention the fact that there is only so much time in the day to accomplish everything on your to-do list.

I know you’re busy, but so am I. But hopefully, by this stage in your life, you would agree that life is more like a marathon rather than a sprint. We all have to find a way to somehow pace ourselves accordingly so that we don’t inadvertently run out of mental steam before the finish line.

As a professional mental health interventionist and licensed psychotherapist, I have had the unique opportunity to work with some very successful and even a few well-known clients who have found themselves struggling in one way or another with any combination of mental health and substance disorders, with issues that clearly transcend all socioeconomic levels. Although I never actually plan to trade foreign currencies in London—or become a market-maker of integrated industrial circuitry in San Francisco for that matter—I have learned a lot of practical life lessons working with my clients.

One of the most significant lessons has been how important it is to find a way to budget your time wisely so that you can increase your productivity while having enough time to reflect and enjoy your desired quality of life, all somehow without the risk of burning out. In other words, success does not have to come at the expense of your own mental health.

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With that being said, fortunately, meditation happens to be one of the most powerful, easily accessible, and cost-effective introspective tools available to help you gain the cognitive clarity and sharpness to successfully balance your precious time. Below are five ways that meditation helps you improve your daily focus and concentration.

1. Meditation Unclutters Your Mind

Meditation helps you improve your daily focus and concentration by uncluttering your mind. Similar to a computer, after downloading enough large files onto the hard drive in your mind—at one point or another—you will probably feel as though your mind has run out of free space to store any more information, thereby potentially overloading your own unique internal operating system.

It happens to the best of us, myself included. As a result, just like a computer, our performance diminishes, along with our mental health. We all have our limits. Mediation essentially provides a neurosensory pathway to archive important files while deleting obsolete and sometimes even intrusive data.

2. Meditation Liberates Your Thoughts From Past Traumas

Meditation helps you improve your daily focus and concentration by liberating your thoughts from past traumas. A traumatic event is usually characterized by something shocking to witness, marked by a sense of horror, helplessness, or by the threat of serious injury or death. Many people who have witnessed a traumatic event are negatively impacted long after the incident occurred by a condition that is commonly known as post-traumatic stress disorder. Many people suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder experience flashbacks, insomnia, and generalized anxiety.[1]

With guided meditation, you may be able to effectively work through the trauma by learning to let go of the specific circumstances surrounding the traumatic event that has negatively impacted your life. In essence, meditation can help you make peace with the past so that you live in the here and now with clarity and ultimately without fear.

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3. Meditation Highlights the Impact of Maladaptive Belief Systems

Meditation helps you improve your daily focus and concentration by highlighting the impact of maladaptive belief systems. In one way or another, we are all products of our environment. Our belief systems are built upon the world that we live in and the information that we can access. Only through global exploration did everyone finally accept the fact that the world was not flat.

We all have the capacity to change the way we think, become more insightful, and be more aware of our surroundings. Meditation can provide a transcendental out-of-body perspective on any given subject with a more transparent line of sight well above the proverbial forest. Mediation can help provide you with the mental acuity to look at any given situation from multiple perspectives, which ultimately enhances your capacity to adapt to change.

4. Meditation Helps You Separate Yourself From Unhealthy Distractions

Meditation helps you improve your daily focus and concentration by enabling you to separate yourself from less critical and sometimes unhealthy distractions that tend to impede your ability to maintain healthy relationships with others and function independently.

As a professional addiction counselor, many of my clients have actually been able to use guided meditation to effectively work through cravings to use mood-altering substances, as well as behaviors associated with complex compulsive disorders.[2]

Through meditation, you can essentially discard unwanted thoughts—first within your subconscious, and then in practice, when real-life conscious urges arise. Therefore, meditation can actually help people stay sober and stable by giving them an outlet to release thoughts and feelings that would otherwise compromise their overall mental health. In fact, studies have shown that regular meditation can be as effective as medication in treating people with symptoms of severe depression.[3]

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5. Meditation Creates a Judgment-Free Zone

Meditation helps you improve your daily focus and concentration by creating a judgment-free zone for you to collect your thoughts in peace and harmony before making critical and time-sensitive decisions with clarity. As both a licensed psychotherapist and small business owner, I have to always be on point, performing at my very best, all the while making every effort to spend quality time with my family.

In my world, there is no room for mediocrity and wasting time. I have clients that depend on me for counsel and a family that needs as much of my love and attention as I can possibly give—perhaps you feel the very same way. As a result, we are constantly making important decisions that impact a lot of people, and that’s the great thing about meditation.

No matter where you are in the world, no matter the time, unless you are in the middle of surgery or perhaps flying a plane—even if only for a brief moment—meditation can provide a transcendental portal into your very own subconscious tropical oasis of serenity and oneness where you can clear your mind before making major decisions.

Why Meditate for Concentration?

We all want to be self-sufficient and successful in whatever we choose to do with our lives. As humans, we are innately proud to be autonomous thinkers with the ability to resolve complex issues and accomplish even our loftiest goals using drive and ingenuity. As a result, we need to be able to focus and concentrate on the situation at hand with a clear mind, whether it be at work or at home.

From a personal perspective, the decisions that we make directly impact the lives of our loved ones. Someone once said that “no man is an island.” I firmly agree that we all need interpersonal connections in our lives to fully participate in the human experience. Furthermore, as entrepreneurs and independent professionals, we usually don’t have a back-office staff to help us take care of our clients.

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Although we may have confidence in others, at the end of the day, it is ultimately our responsibility as individuals to make sure that both our loved ones—as well as our clients—feel as though we are available and on top of things, especially the things that they have entrusted us to take care of for them.

Final Thoughts

At the end of the day, many of us feel as though we just don’t have the luxury of taking a day off. There just isn’t anyone else to open up the store, perform the service, or spend enough quality time with loved ones eagerly waiting at home for some of our undivided attention. Therefore, our overall interpersonal happiness and financial success may largely depend on our ability to effectively focus and concentrate. Without enough time to refresh and recharge our minds, we can easily burn out.

Just like an acrobat appearing to fearlessly walk across a tightrope, we may be able to significantly improve our overall focus and level of concentration by using meditation to help us channel all of our conscious weight to our emotional base, giving us a greater sense of balance and clarity as we move forward in our lives.

Tips on How to Meditate for Concentration

Featured photo credit: processingly via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Evan Jarschauer

Professional Mental Health Interventionist & Licensed Psychotherapist

How To Cope With Traumatic Events And Stress How to Quit Drinking for a Healthier Body and Mind 5 Ways Alcohol Affects Your Energy Levels How To Recognize the Most Common Types of Mental Illness 5 Ways Meditation Improves Your Daily Focus and Concentration

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Last Updated on October 20, 2021

How to Deal with Digital Distraction to Improve Your Focus

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How to Deal with Digital Distraction to Improve Your Focus

We live in a time where we have access to nearly anything and everything we could ever ask for. But we need to ask ourselves: Is this a good thing? If you’re planning a honeymoon, looking for ways to build your next business, or searching to improve your physical fitness, having an endless portal of information is worth its weight in gold. But if you’re like most individuals throughout the world, the internet has become a source of ongoing anxiety, stress, and fear-mongering—a digital distraction that can have devastating effects on our mental and emotional well-being.

With social media, we see what people want us to see, not what they truly are at all hours during the day. We see what news outlets want us to see with our newsfeed, especially if it’s skewed to connect with your views through a brilliantly designed algorithm. With our information, we confirm our biases through articles, podcast episodes, and reading forums that perfectly reinforce what we already know. Yet, we have to wonder: is this good for us, for our brains, and our long-term growth?

Even with the recent advancements in technology over the last few decades, our brains haven’t changed much. The latest estimates suggest that our modern-day brains haven’t changed in over 40,000 years, which is a blink of an eye on our trajectory of life on our planet as we know it.[1] As a result of this lack of change, our brains haven’t been able to adapt to digital distractions—this rapidly changing technology and fast-paced lifestyle—which was created to hijack our brain’s neural circuitry by creating continuous stressors that have devastating effects on our overall health.

In his infamous book Why Zebra’s Don’t Get Ulcers, Robert Sapolsky documents how stress affects both animals and humans, essentially making the analogy that stress isn’t bad in small quantities, but repeated and chronic stressors over days, weeks, months, and even years can have detrimental effects on our health. And these stressors don’t even have to be real!

Perceived stress from anxiety, judgment, fear of missing out, and feelings of being inferior to others based on comparisons and social media profiles can have similar effects on our health because the brain cannot truly tell the difference between a real or perceived threat. Technological advancements rarely come without a hidden cost to the people using them.

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While this talk may all sound grim and pessimistic, it doesn’t have to be. The advent of the internet and social media has allowed individuals to express themselves, find their tribe, and connect with others around the world without having to leave their homes. And companies are being built at the kitchen counter of an apartment because of how impactful the internet has become.

To change our current mental health and addiction trajectory, we must understand how to take back control and use these platforms to our advantage. Here are a few tips on how to deal with digital distractions and improve your focus.

1. Kiss Your Notifications Good-Bye

In his hallmark book, Indistractible, Nir Eyal goes into great detail about how social media companies ingeniously created “alerts” to seduce the mind into spending more time on a platform, thus increasing viewing times, creating greater revenue generation, and creating a dependency on updated information. Much like casinos, these tactics heavily involve similar reward pathways within the brain, causing the user to become a dopamine-addicted fiend by using likes, clicks, and alerts to fuel an archaic positive-feedback system that keeps them coming back for more.[2]

Do you actually need to know when someone liked a friend’s page? In the grand scheme of things, how impactful is it to see that you got 20 likes on your post from yesterday? And is it going to change your career trajectory if your friend posted a cat video on their TikTok page?

Let’s be honest, our lives would be much easier if we weren’t inundated with these quick little digital distractions, which is exactly what they are. They’re designed to keep you as a user, which is why you need to take control of your content and filter your settings for alerts.

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Alerts are nothing more than simple distractions to take you away from the task at hand, so why not just get rid of them? Odds are, you are most likely checking your social media page a few times a day anyway. So since you’re already heading to the page, hold off on the distractions while you get your work done.

And this brings us to our next point.

2. Structure Provides Freedom of Choice

Planning your day can be one of the most efficient uses of your time because it sets up the structure needed to accomplish your tasks. This structure inherently allows you greater freedom of choice down the road, as it will allow you to have more free time after you get your work done and finish up deadlines. It will also reinforce that freedom isn’t the lack of boundaries. It is the foundation to allow you to have greater freedom of choice later.

Saving money may not be the most glorious habit. Still, those small habits of saving can compound into significant personal and financial freedoms later in life, essentially allowing you the freedom to retire from work and still have the financial flexibility to continue on with life.

The same is true with using social media and digital platforms for enjoyment. Planning the times and duration for using these platforms can be one of the most efficient uses of your time because it creates boundaries. Influencers on social media platforms don’t have enough time in the day to be scrolling and creating content, but they make you feel like they do. This principle is also true for you, especially those who use digital platforms to promote your brand, business, or company.

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Use your time wisely because we all have a limited and finite amount of it no matter how wealthy you are.

3. Use Digital Platforms to Grow, Not to Show

Who you choose to follow on social media will dictate how productive you are when you’re not actively scrolling. Why? Because your newsfeed will influence the emotions, feelings, and reactions to drive you closer or further away from achieving your goals.

When digital distractions become rampant, they take you away from the tasks at hand and can cause you to feel guilty because of how they make you feel. Just because you aren’t a 27-year-old YouTube channel sensation doesn’t mean you won’t ever achieve the status of being an influential entrepreneur. You can’t compare your chapter 2 to someone else’s chapter 10.

Your choice in following accounts and individuals who will empower you to overcome stressors, hurdles, and personal life choices could give you enough motivation to push through the struggles and face your greatest fears. And if you haven’t taken the time to clean up who you follow on social media, it’s time to make it happen.

Humans are social animals and can be easily influenced by our surroundings. Case in point: Dr. Stanley Milgram performed multiple studies in the 1960s where participants were asked to induce a graded electric shock to an “unknowingly” willing participant in a separate room. Over time, the participants were asked to turn up the intensity of the shocks, reaching a point of lethal shock intensity. Even at lethal shock levels, the participants kept inducing shocks to the individual in the closed room per suggestions from the accompanying individual in the room guiding them through the exercise. Why? Because when people have authority, we inherently obey their orders to feel connected and socially accepted, even if those orders involve drastic actions and near-fatal outcomes.[3]

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Luckily, there were no individuals harmed during these experiments because the participants in the closed room were actors hired to play the part of being shocked. But the information is enough to show just how impactful outside sources of influence—especially authoritative forces like social media influencers and people with high follower counts—can be on changing our behaviors.

Your time spent online should pick you up and help guide you towards your intended goals, not push you down and make you feel inferior to the rest of the world. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, we already had a mental health crisis on our hands.[4] Let’s do what we can to reverse it.

4. When You Choose To Focus, Your Life Will Come Into Focus

If you’ve ever been looking for a new car, you know how impactful intentional focus can be on accomplishing a task. It is at this moment when you realize that every other person on the road is driving the same car that you’ve been looking to buy. How is this possible?

The amount of cars on the road hasn’t changed. Your perceptions have. It’s always been that way, but once your brain starts to focus on a specific detail, you start seeing more of it manifest throughout your environment. This happens regardless of whether or not you’re looking for the good, the bad, or the ugly. What you hope to see is what you will eventually get.

When you focus your time and energy on accomplishing your end task, your brain will find things to reinforce this pattern, thus creating an inevitable positive feedback cycle that will take you and your game to the next level. This concept of “The Law of Attraction” can be dated back centuries to many historical figures throughout the world.[5]

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So, the next time you find yourself fazed by digital distractions and lost in the realms of our current digital age, take some time to sit back, lose yourself in your thoughts, and put your phone away. It’s the only way you will make it out alive.

More Tips on Dealing With Distractions

Featured photo credit: Maxim Ilyahov via unsplash.com

Reference

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