That’s what Harvard researchers Matthew A. Killingsworth and Daniel T. Gilbert of Harvard University wrote after their 2010 study found people spend nearly half of their waking hours thinking about something other than what is going on right in front of them.
There is good news, however: We are not doomed to a life of distraction. By practicing mindfulness we can strengthen our ability to focus on the task at hand.
Mindfulness is about paying attention to the present moment “without a making-up story about it or reacting to it,” said Amishi Jha, professor of psychology at the University of Miami and author of the forthcoming “Peak Mind: Find Your Focus, Own Your Attention, Invest 12 Minutes a Day.”
Jha says it’s very beneficial to embrace a still practice, which she describes to “resistance training for attention”.
The goal is not about controlling the breath but “observing the breath and keeping your attention on the breath and when the mind wanders away to guide it back to the breath,” she said.
“When we are still, it is much easier to take this kind of observational stance,” Jha added. “We don’t have to control our movement. We don’t have to monitor where we are in space.”
If you have tried our Rezl app then you’ve probably noticed that the Rezl mediations, often ask you to “return to the breath” as a way to quieten the mind and focus on our breathing. But why is it important to practice this three or four times a week? Well it’s really about having a single thing to focus on so that we notice when the mind wanders (…as that is what minds tend to do!). Focusing on our breathing is in itself calming and prevents us from thinking about the past or worrying about the future. Yet there’s a little more to it than this.
We’ve automated so much of how we react that we are often unaware of the thoughts and emotions arising within us. The practice of focusing on the breath reduces our habit of allowing thoughts and reactions to be managed by our autopilot.
As we become aware of our reactions; we can start to identify those that do not serve us and which we would like to change. Without being aware, how can we change?
So, the first step is to reduce the tendency of the mind to wander. That is why we focus on the breath.
If you haven’t tried our Rezl app then download it from the app store or the google play store.