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How to Improve Your Concentration

How to Improve Your Concentration
flower geranium

    In concentration we marshal all our dispersed energies into focusing on just one thing. When mastered, concentration can be of unimaginable benefit in our life; through concentration we can increase our productivity and give ourselves greater peace of mind. These are some suggestions for improving your concentration.

    One-Pointedness

    Concentration means that we can focus on one thing, to the exclusion of all else. Our concentration may involve writing or working on a particular problem. Whatever our activity the most important criteria is to give all our focus, concentration and attention solely to the activity at hand. Concentration becomes hopeless when we get distracted by several different things at the same time; to improve our concentration we must stop trying to do several things at once. If you are writing an article, don’t be thinking about what to say to your boss later in the day. If we can develop one-pointedness we will develop a tremendous intensity that enables us to achieve our tasks much quicker.

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    Learn to Control Your Thoughts

    The main stumbling block to concentration is the inevitable distraction we get from our own thoughts. It is random, uninvited thoughts that distract us from achieving pure concentration. The only solution is learning to control and quieten our thoughts. The first thing to be aware of is that we do have the choice to welcome or reject thoughts; we should not feel a helpless victim of our own mind. The second thing is we need to consciously watch our thoughts and prevent ourselves following any train of thought that detracts from our concentration. If we casually begin a project, it is easy to begin daydreaming and lose focus; what we need to do is be very determined to concentrate without distracting thoughts. When we have this intention and determination it becomes much easier to concentrate.

    Practice

    Concentration is an activity like any other. Clearly the more we practice, the better our concentration will become. We wouldn’t expect to be a strong runner without doing some training. Similarly, concentration is like a muscle, the more we exercise the stronger it becomes. There are specific concentration exercises we can do, such as focusing on a small point of an object; but life itself presents innumerable opportunities to sharpen your concentration. The key is to always take opportunities to heighten our powers of concentration.

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    Meditation

    The practice of meditation will definitely improve our powers of concentration. Actually, when we try to meditate, it is concentration that is the first thing we need to master. A daily period of meditation gives us the chance to specifically work on concentration techniques. This can involve concentrating on a candle or just concentrating on our breathing. These exercises are simple but effective.

    Change is as Good as a Rest

    It is difficult to concentrate on one thing for an extended time period. Sometimes, the best solution is to give ourselves frequent change. If we concentrate on one task for an hour, we can then move onto something different. This change in activity enables us to use different qualities, therefore, we can maintain our powers of concentration without becoming tired of one activity.

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    Physical Alertness

    The powers of our concentration depends a lot upon our physical well-being. If we are tired, unhealthy and afflicted by numerous minor ailments, concentration will be more difficult. Of course, concentration is still possible; it is just more difficult. However, we have to try to make life easy for ourselves; we need to give a high priority to our physical health – getting sufficient sleep, staying physically fit. Undertaking exercise will help develop our concentration. It will help if we lose weight, clear the mind and create a sense of dynamism. If you struggle to concentrate, we need to think of a holistic solution; good physical health and fitness will definitely help develop our powers of concentration.

    Photo by: Tejvan

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    Last Updated on September 20, 2018

    8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

    8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

    You go to the gym to train your muscles. You run outside or go for hikes to train your endurance. Or, maybe you do neither of those, but still wish you exercised more.

    Well, here is how to train one of the most important parts of your body: your brain.

    When you train your brain, you will:

    • Avoid embarrassing situations. You remember his face, but what was his name?
    • Be a faster learner in all sorts of different skills. No problem for you to pick up a new language or new management skill.
    • Avoid diseases that hit as you get older. Alzheimer’s will not be affecting you.

    So how to train your brain and improve your cognitive skills?

    1. Work your memory

    Twyla Tharp, a NYC-based renowned choreographer has come up with the following memory workout:

    When she watches one of her performances, she tries to remember the first twelve to fourteen corrections she wants to discuss with her cast without writing them down.

    If you think this is anything less than a feat, then think again. In her book The Creative Habit she says that most people cannot remember more than three.

    The practice of both remembering events or things and then discussing them with others has actually been supported by brain fitness studies.

    Memory activities that engage all levels of brain operation—receiving, remembering and thinking—help to improve the function of the brain.

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    Now, you may not have dancers to correct, but you may be required to give feedback on a presentation, or your friends may ask you what interesting things you saw at the museum. These are great opportunities to practically train your brain by flexing your memory muscles.

    What is the simplest way to help yourself remember what you see? Repetition.

    For example, say you just met someone new:

    “Hi, my name is George”

    Don’t just respond with, “Nice to meet you”. Instead, say, “Nice to meet you George.”

    Got it? Good.

    2. Do something different repeatedly

    By actually doing something new over and over again, your brain wires new pathways that help you do this new thing better and faster.

    Think back to when you were three years old. You surely were strong enough to hold a knife and a fork just fine. Yet, when you were eating all by yourself, you were creating a mess.

    It was not a matter of strength, you see. It was a matter of cultivating more and better neural pathways that would help you eat by yourself just like an adult does.

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    And guess what? With enough repetition you made that happen!

    But how does this apply to your life right now?

    Say you are a procrastinator. The more you don’t procrastinate, the more you teach your brain not to wait for the last minute to make things happen.

    Now, you might be thinking “Duh, if only not procrastinating could be that easy!”

    Well, it can be. By doing something really small, that you wouldn’t normally do, but is in the direction of getting that task done, you will start creating those new precious neural pathways.

    So if you have been postponing organizing your desk, just take one paper and put in its right place. Or, you can go even smaller. Look at one piece of paper and decide where to put it: Trash? Right cabinet? Another room? Give it to someone?

    You don’t actually need to clean up that paper; you only need to decide what you need to do with it.

    That’s how small you can start. And yet, those neural pathways are still being built. Gradually, you will transform yourself from a procrastinator to an in-the-moment action taker.

    3. Learn something new

    It might sound obvious, but the more you use your brain, the better its going to perform for you.

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    For example, learning a new instrument improves your skill of translating something you see (sheet music) to something you actually do (playing the instrument).

    Learning a new language exposes your brain to a different way of thinking, a different way of expressing yourself.

    You can even literally take it a step further, and learn how to dance. Studies indicate that learning to dance helps seniors avoid Alzheimer’s. Not bad, huh?

    4. Follow a brain training program

    The Internet world can help you improve your brain function while lazily sitting on your couch. A clinically proven program like BrainHQ can help you improve your memory, or think faster, by just following their brain training exercises.

    5. Work your body

    You knew this one was coming didn’t you? Yes indeed, exercise does not just work your body; it also improves the fitness of your brain.

    Even briefly exercising for 20 minutes facilitates information processing and memory functions. But it’s not just that–exercise actually helps your brain create those new neural connections faster. You will learn faster, your alertness level will increase, and you get all that by moving your body.

    Now, if you are not already a regular exerciser, and already feel guilty that you are not helping your brain by exercising more, try a brain training exercise program like Exercise Bliss.

    Remember, just like we discussed in #2, by training your brain to do something new repeatedly, you are actually changing yourself permanently.

    6. Spend time with your loved ones

    If you want optimal cognitive abilities, then you’ve got to have meaningful relationships in your life.  Talking with others and engaging with your loved ones helps you think more clearly, and it can also lift your mood.

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    If you are an extrovert, this holds even more weight for you. At a class at Stanford University, I learned that extroverts actually use talking to other people as a way to understand and process their own thoughts.

    I remember that the teacher told us that after a personality test said she was an extrovert, she was surprised. She had always thought of herself as an introvert. But then, she realized how much talking to others helped her frame her own thoughts, so she accepted her new-found status as an extrovert.

    7. Avoid crossword puzzles

    Many of us, when we think of brain fitness, think of crossword puzzles. And it’s true–crossword puzzles do improve our fluency, yet studies show they are not enough by themselves.

    Are they fun? Yes. Do they sharpen your brain? Not really.

    Of course, if you are doing this for fun, then by all means go ahead. If you are doing it for brain fitness, then you might want to choose another activity

    8. Eat right – and make sure dark chocolate is included

    Foods like fish, fruits, and vegetables help your brain perform optimally. Yet, you might not know that dark chocolate gives your brain a good boost as well.

    When you eat chocolate, your brain produces dopamine. And dopamine helps you learn faster and remember better. Not to mention, chocolate contains flavonols, antioxidants, which also improve your brain functions.

    So next time you have something difficult to do, make sure you grab a bite or two of dark chocolate!

    The bottom line

    Now that you know how to train your brain, it’s actually time to start doing.

    Don’t just consume this content and then go on with your life as if nothing has changed. Put this knowledge into action and become smarter than ever!

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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