Meditation provides focus and improves concentration, studies have confirmed. Will a focused meditation practice helps me meet my goals?
Meditation for focus is the first step to success
It is common sense that using meditation to focus on a goal will help realize that goal faster. There is a growing body of scientific research supporting that long-held belief. Additionally many studies demonstrating meditation’s ability to improve focus and concentration.
“Focused meditation” is a well-founded technique. However, using meditation to clarify and remain committed to your goals has been seen as less meditative and more motivational. It is most often used by athletes, business people, or self-improvement gurus.
Part of my goal to get fit is to improve the power of my mind. I have used meditation to ease anxiety and relieve stress. But aiming the mind like a spotlight on my goals is new territory for me. It is something I want to get better at. Scientific research tells me that I can.
Why regular meditation improves your focus
The benefits of meditation are well-known and wide-ranging. But how does a meditation practice actually work? A meditation routine will actually route new neural paths in the brain and increase grey matter. Meditators can control their physiology in ways scientists once thought impossible. Additionally, meditation can heal emotional and psychological injuries, including PTSD.
Meditation a discipline. It works when practiced regularly. Meditation improves focus and concentration in several ways:
- Meditation calms you down. The whole practice is about wrangling control over our thoughts and the feelings they produce. When you contain your wandering thoughts, you can pay more attention to the thoughts you want to focus on.
- Meditation makes you present. Too often our thoughts are a million miles away from our situation. Meditation helps you be present in the moment. Being present dismisses distractions, allowing you to focus.
- Many meditations include mantras. Repeating a thought or phrase over and over is a powerful way to lock it into memory. Not everyone agrees that positive affirmations help people feel better. But therapists and psychologists strongly encourage positive self-talk. Repeating a positive affirmation, or restating a goal, will fix that thought in the mind. Then it will influence habits and behaviors.
While meditation exercises your brain and makes it physically grow, it also builds new neural pathways and redirects thoughts, emotions, reactions, and motivations.
The benefits of meditation on your attention span
For several years we have known that meditation had the ability to improve attention span and concentration. Even in people who took up the practice only recently benefited from regular meditation. They were able to concentrate for longer periods of time, including while performing mundane tasks.
Other demonstrated benefits included improved memory, attention to detail, quicker response times, and increased self-confidence.
Also, people get better able to meet deadlines. They stay on task and don’t get lost in multitasking. They produce better results overall. Their emotional intelligence seems to increase, as well.
Who wouldn’t want more control over their thoughts and attention span, anyway?
Create a practice for focus and concentration
While focused mediation and meditation for focus are slightly different practices, they do share common techniques. Both involve slowing down the mind and bringing attention to a specific point. In focused meditation, it might be an image or the flame of a candle. In meditation for focus and concentration, it may be the repeated task of constantly monitoring the breath. Affirmations that sideline distracting thoughts are encouraged, also.
As with any mediation ritual, it is best to perform it regularly. Practicing once a day – even for a few minutes -improves focus and concentration in daily life. It is best to practice in a quiet, comfortable surrounding, and to limit any potential distraction. So, silence those cell phones and close the laptop.
- Sit someplace comfortable, and wear clothing that is non-binding and won’t cause you to fidget.
- Rather than close your eyes completely, gaze softly as an object, such as a quartz crystal, a candle flame, or a small statuette. If you are focusing for affirmations, why not chose an empowering phrase or an image of something that shows your goal? If you are determined to own a sailboat, put up an image of a sailboat.
- Focus on drawing your breath in and out. Become very conscious of the mechanics of breathing. Feel the air filling your lungs and escaping your nose and mouth. With each breath, imagine all stress, anxiety, anger, and other negative emotions flowing out of you.
- Bring your focus to your selected object. Don’t let thoughts, sounds, or itches distract you. Now, concentrate on the object. Observe it and every detail in it. Does it move? Observe the movement. If it has a pattern, follow the paths of that pattern in your mind. Repeat the mantra or an affirmation again and again. Make every word resonate with confidence and certainty.
- If you find that other thoughts are creeping in, gently and without judgment bring your mind and focus back to the object. Don’t fight the thoughts that slither in to distract you. Just observe them, take note, then draw your attention back to your focus.
- This is a practice and lifestyle. You may not discern any positive effects for days or weeks. But your brain’s structure is renovating. You will begin to notice results over time. Be patient.
I meditate for focus to lose weight and get fit
My own path of mediation for focus has led me use my practice to lose weight and get fit. Like many people, I still struggle to incorporate a regular and effective practice into my daily schedule. However the times that I have used meditation, I have always seen results.
Right now I am the object of my focused mediation routine is a number. The number is 186. I have an index card with the number written in black sharpie marker. I have it taped to the wall I face when I meditate. It is also posted in other places, such as the sun visor of my car. I have one on the door to my refrigerator.
186 is the weight in pounds I want to achieve through dieting, exercise, and meditation. Looking at it during my practice keeps that goal in the forefront of my mind. Having it around me when I’m not actively meditating still helps bring that goal, and what I have to do to reach it, planted in my consciousness.
I don’t use it exclusively for all my meditations. But it has helped me stand firm in my resolve when temptations and bad habits tried to derail my progress. As long as I continue to practice, I will continue to get stronger.