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Brief Mindfulness Improves Focus

Meditation has been regarded as a highly effective way to focus for some time. A recent study lead by Aarhus University, found that brief mindfulness improves focus, or in their words, is effective for “training attention-related neuroplasticity.” If you’re not familiar with the term plasticity, it refers to the brain’s capacity to structure new neural pathways based on new experiences. Many of us worry about the future, or dwell on the past, when in actual fact we should be living in the present, which is of course what being mindful is all about.

Brief Mindfulness Improves Focus

Brief Mindfulness For FocusIncreased brain responses to emotional stimuli where found only in those participants with the most practice, suggesting that such benefits may require greater training and depend upon first developing attentional skills. Overall, the meditation group showed better attention performance and increased brain activity in regions associated with executive function. Executive function consists of skills such as paying attention for long periods, resisting distractions, and cognitive flexibility. Disruption of these abilities has been linked to disorders including addiction and post-traumatic stress, which are known to respond positively to mindfulness training.

Continue reading on Aarhus University Website

I think some people regard meditation as being a little ‘out there’, or kinda weird. If brief mindfulness improves focus, then in today’s world of ‘hyper distraction’ it ought to be something that everyone should consider incorporating into their daily routines. I started a very simple form of meditation about 6 months ago, where you just focus on your breathing for 5 minutes, taking long deep breaths. Every time a thought enters your head, you get rid of it, and then refocus on your breathing. It’s very relaxing. I’ve heard some people do this for 45 minutes at a time, at the start and the end of their days. Now that’s dedication!

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Exercises To Stimulate Your Brain And Senses

If you fear you may be getting forgetful, you may want to try a few of these exercises to stimulate your brain and senses written by Arti Patel for the Huffington Post Canada. Be sure to click through to the Huffington Post as there’s a slide show well worth viewing. Among it are tips such as turning your photos upside down in your work place as this will immediately puts your brain in “alert mode” according to Dr Stephen Brewer (cited below), and brushing your teeth with your less different hand can apparently induce creativity as it stimulates the brain’s senses.

Exercises To Stimulate Your Brain And Senses

Meditation For FocusDr. Stephen Brewer, medical director at Canyon Ranch in Tucson, Arizona says improving your memory is all about stimulating your senses.

“Using two senses can increase the likelihood of remembering something and smell is the most powerful sense for memory,” he said at the second annual St. Lucia Health and Wellness Retreat in Castries, St. Lucia.

Our senses work to engage our attention and helps our brain become more alert of our surroundings, Brewer says. Brain exercises, like playing Sudoku or crossword puzzles in the morning paper, have been shown to help improve not only intelligence,but also help prevent Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, according to the Archives of Neurology. An estimated 500,000 people have Alzheimer’s or a type of dementia in Canada and over 70,000 of them are under the age of 65, according to the Alzheimer’s Society of Toronto.

Continue reading on The Huffington Post

I was happy to see meditation featured in these exercises to stimulate your brain and senses. Meditation has a heap of benefits including its ability to boost your focus and creativity, and according to this article has even been shown to slow mental decline. The simplest form of meditation is to go to a quite place, uninterrupted, close your eyes, take deep slow breaths and to focus only your breathing. As soon as a thought enters your head, get rid of it and turn your attention back to your breathing. This empties your brain of thoughts and the longer you do it, the better you get at just concentrating on your breathing without the interruption of thoughts entering your head. It’s actually quite liberating, I’ve been doing it before going to sleep and waking up in the mornings. If you’re interested in meditation, this article explains a little more.

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Meditation for Focus, Determination, and Stress Relief

The more I read and write about meditation, the more I think it’s something everyone should do. Here, keynote speaker and executive coach, Victoria Labalme talks about the benefits of meditation for focus, determination, and stress relief. Living in the present  or being mindful should not be underrated. Do you find yourself dwelling on the past or worrying about the future? Meditation can help with that. Here’s what Victoria Labalme has to say:

Meditation for Focus, Determination, and Stress Relief

Meditation For FocusThe more I practiced meditation, in class and in my bedroom, the faster that sense of calm and relaxation took hold. I started experimenting with guided suggestion—focusing my mind on my creativity and motivation, my focus and passion. After a year of meditating several times every week I can honestly say that I’m healthier, happier, and more in control of my mind than I’ve ever been. I feel emotionally secure, clear, and comfortable in my own head. I think everyone can benefit from regular meditation. It’s time for you to commune with your inner self. It’s time for you to identify problems and focus on solutions, to live in the present instead of dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Read more here from Victoria Labalme’s website

I started meditation a few months ago and I’m already starting to notice improvements including a greater ability to focus. I do it for 10-15 mins before bed and when I wake up in the morning before breakfast. Some people do this for half and hour to 45 minutes twice a day.  If you’d like to try meditation for focus, determination and stress relief then I’d highly recommend this low cost course from Dr Harlen Kilstein called 10 Minutes To Bliss.

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5 Ways To Focus On Being Mindful

Are you one to dwell on the past or worry about the future? Mindfulness brings you back to the present and is an excellent way to put everything into perspective and reduce stress. If you’re ever struggling to focus, being more mindful may just help. Here are 5 ways to focus on being mindful brought to you by Margarita Tartakovsky for Psych Central. She reviews a book called One Minute Mindfulness: 50 Simple Ways to Find Peace, Clarity, and New Possibilities in a Stressed-Out World by psychotherapist, Donald Altman.

One Minute Mindfulness: 50 Simple Ways to Find Peace, Clarity, and New Possibilities in a Stressed-Out WorldBring a dose of creativity to your workday.

Work no doubt takes up a large portion of our days. And no doubt the tasks can quickly become tedious. Fortunately, being mindful “can help you tap into a deeper sense of purpose and turn on the lamp of creativity,” Altman writes. He suggests striving to do one small creative thing at work or saying an affirmation, such as “The treasure of creativity is available to me at all times,” or “I let go of expectation and let creativity come to me.”

 Find pleasantness at work.

Altman notes that this is one of the most profound practices. “Pleasantness is an anchor that helps us center by locating the peace that is ever-present, even when it is hidden.” You can find pleasantness in a song, a sound, a scent or a blade of grass, he says. All you have to do is scan your surroundings. Altman also suggests bringing a pleasant object to work – such as a photo of a loved one – or having something portable with you at all times.

Continue reading the whole article here

I’m not sure these 5 ways to focus on being mindful are for everyone but the idea of mindfulness, I think, is important. We’re living in a fast-paced and competitive world, being bombarded with depressing news stories every day. I’ve pretty much stopped watching the news as it’s mostly negative and depressing – who needs that every day? I don’t. Mindfulness apparently helps to live in the present, remove all distractions, fears and anxieties. Click here to read more about mindfulness.

 

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5 Ways To Focus With Meditation

If you’re a regular on this site you’ll have seen quite few posts on meditation. This is because it is a proven technique for focusing, reducing stress, anxiety, relaxation plus many other benefits. Here are 5 ways to focus with meditation written by Danielle Mika Nagel for The Huffington Post. If you’d like to read a quick article about the benefits of meditation, click here.  Here are two of my favourite points. To read them all, click on the link below the article.

Ways To Focus With Meditation1. Silence before email. 
Morning meditations give you a chance at clarity before your mind becomes busy with the thoughts and activities of the day. If your routine wakeup involves checking your inbox in bed, swap your mobile phone for a few minutes of morning silence. Have a comfortable cushion set up in a peaceful area of your home. Make it a habit to come to this spot before you do anything. Sit tall and allow yourself to focus on your breath. Deeply inhale, then deeply exhale. When a thought enters your mind, notice it, then return to your breath. Repeat this exercise for 10 minutes.

5. Move.
Whether you’re tied to your desk, stuck in traffic or caught in meetings, the average Canadian worker spends three quarters of the day sitting. The simple act of moving your body purposefully can be meditative. Go for a short run, do some simple yoga stretches or put on a song that motivates you to dance. The act of moving with intention will force you to get out of your head and into your body.

Continue reading whole article from The Huffington Post

I quoted these two points from the 5 ways to focus with meditation for a few reasons; checking email first thing in the morning can clutter up your work day at the best of times as the process immediately distracts you from your plan for the day (which you’ll have set the previous day before leaving work). You can get sucked in to hours of responding to emails, and before you know it, you’ve achieved very little. As per Tim Ferris’ The Four Hour Work Week (a great book!) turn off your instant delivery of emails and check them at two specific time slots; just before lunch and again at around 4pm.

Secondly, the notion that the simple act of moving can be meditative was interesting. We know that exercise is among the top best ways to focus, but for it to also act as a form of meditation gives it even more weight as an absolute necessity in your life if you want to focus and maintain an all-round healthy lifestyle too.

 

 

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Meditation Can Improve Your Focus, Productivity and Memory

If you’re a regular on this site, you’ll have seen quite a few posts on how meditation can improve your focus, productivity and memory. Researchers at the University of Washington were able to deduce that those who undertook meditation training were able to concentrate better, remember more of what they had done, were more energized throughout their days and experienced fewer spells of negativity.

Meditation Can Improve Your Focus, Productivity and Memory

Meditation For focus, Productivity And MemoryIn the study, three groups each of 12 to 15 human resource managers were given 8-week training courses in 1) mindfulness meditation, 2) body relaxation, or 3) the mindfulness mediation after being on a wait list for eight weeks (the waitlist control group).

Participants were then tested for their speed, accuracy, and multi-tasking while doing common office tasks like word processing and using email, calendars, and instant messaging. The subjects also recorded their stress levels and memory performance.

The meditation group outperformed the others when it came to reduced stress, greater focus, and improved memory. The waitlist control group didn’t have reduced stress until after they did the meditation training eight weeks later. The relaxation group, oddly enough, wasn’t any less relaxed at work.

Read whole article from Life Hacker

If meditation can improve your focus, productivity and memory, why are more people not doing it? Is it because they feel strange doing it? Is it because they’re afraid of telling people that they meditate? Certainly growing up, if my friends or I ever saw people meditating in public, we’d think they’re a little strange. Nowadays, I’d look at them and think “fair play, good on you” – but that’s because of how much I’ve learned about its benefits since starting this website. If you’d like to give meditation a go, then I’d recommend 10 Minutes To Bliss by Dr Harlan Kilstein.

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How Meditation Can Help You Focus

If you ever needed proof about how meditation can help you focus, then this article is just that. Not only does meditation help you focus, but recent research has shown that in just under a month of meditation you can improve the wiring of your brain.  Here, Claire Bates for the Daily Mail has explains the results of Integrative Body-Mind Training (IBMT) on two groups of university students.

How Meditation Can Help You Focus

How Meditation Can Help You FocusStudents undergoing IBMT also reported improvements in mood, experiencing reduced levels of anger, depression, anxiety and fatigue. They also had lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol.

Study leader Professor Michael Posner, from the University of Oregon, who carried out the original US research, said: ‘This study gives us a much more detailed picture of what it is that is actually changing.

‘We did confirm the exact locations of the white-matter changes that we had found previously. And now we show that both myelination and axon density are improving.

‘The order of changes we found may be similar to changes found during brain development in early childhood, allowing a new way to reveal how such changes might influence emotional and cognitive development.’

The findings are reported in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

In their conclusions, the scientists wrote: ‘This dynamic pattern of white matter change involving the anterior cingulate cortex, a part of the brain network related to self-regulation, could provide a means for intervention to improve or prevent mental disorders.’

Neuroscientist Dr Elena Antonova, from the Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London, said: ‘The findings of this study are potentially good news for all of us. If as little as 11 hours of mindfulness training makes the brain wiring more prolific and better insulated, then simply by being mindful, which is accessible to anyone at any time, we might enjoy a lifetime of mental clarity and emotional stability.’

Read the full article here

If this is how meditation can help you focus, then no wonder more and more people are taking to it.  If at work you are someone who is faced with a never ending flow of emails, phone calls and interruptions, as I was, then it’s easy to lose focus in what you’re actually trying to achieve.  You can spend the whole time staying on top of admin essentially and reach the end of the day wondering what on earth you’ve accomplished. This can lead to all sorts of levels of stress. I used to refer to it as doggy paddling, struggling to keep your head above water. Maybe with some meditation in the daily routine, this would help to get your focus back and reduce stress and anxiety.  If you’ve never tried meditation before, then I recommend 10 Minutes To Bliss by Dr Harlan Kilstein.

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‘Mindfulness’ To Focus And Reduce Stress

Have you ever come across ‘mindfulness’ to focus and reduce stress? Do you ever dwell on the past or worry about the future? ‘Mindfulness’ is a way of focusing on the present moment, rather than the past or future by concentrating on your breathing and paying attention to areas of your body, and it’s becoming increasingly common.  This article written by Julie Carr Smith for Mercury News explains how a member of Congress, Tim Ryan, uses mindfulness every day and he’s joined my marines, office workers, and tens of thousands Americans.

Mindfulness For Focus And RelaxationThe growing body of research showing the brain has the capacity to change throughout life is bringing mental fitness onto the same plane as physical fitness, said Georgetown University associate professor Elizabeth Stanley.

Stanley, who runs MMFT and conducts research for the Army and Marines, said mindfulness meditation “isn’t touchy-feely at all” in its new uses.

“There’s something very empowering about learning how and why the body and mind respond under stress,” she said.

Stanley said studies involving subjects engaged in repeated mindfulness have shown that it changes the way blood and oxygen flow through the brain, leading over time to structural changes. The practice can shrink the amygdala, which controls our fear response; enlarge the hippocampus, which controls memory; and make the insular cortex that regulates the body’s internal environment more efficient, according to recent peer-reviewed studies by Stanley and others.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are touting several recent studies that have found the technique can reduce the severity of irritable bowel syndrome symptoms in women and reduce stress and pain in chronic sufferers of fibromyalgia and depression.

Click here to read the full article

In today’s fast paced and competitive world I’m not at all surprised to hear of new methods people are using to escape the daily grind. Reading this kind of article is making me want to try mindfulness to focus and reduce stress.  Whilst it’s apparently not the same as meditation, there are distinct similarities. As I read books about highly successful people and meet successful people, I’ve began to realise how, more often than not, they engage in a daily ritual and some quiet time themselves, namely meditation, in order to establish focus for the day to come and to remove all distractions.

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Ways To Focus In A World Of Distractions

This must be one of my favourite articles to date, partly because some excellent brains have been cited, such as Steve Jobs, Evan Williams (co-founder of Twitter) and Dustin Moskovitz, co-founder of Asana and Facebook.

You may have come across the term, ‘mindfulness’ when reading through this site. It basically means bringing all of our attention to the present moment, rather than focusing on the past or future – which is surprisingly where our minds are mostly, according to Soren Gordhamer who has written this insightful post for Mashable.  Read on to discover ways to focus in a world of distractions.

Ways To Focus In A World Of Distractions

According to David E. Meyer, director of the Brain, Cognition and Action Laboratory at the University of Michigan, when people try to perform two or more related tasks either at the same time or alternating rapidly between them, errors go way up…

….To access our mindfulness, we need to be as skilled at emptying our mind as we are at filling it. When I asked Padmasree Warrior, CTO of Cisco, how she keeps balance and focus amidst so much responsibility, she says she meditates for twenty minutes a day no matter where she is in the world. “This clears my mind, keeps me anchored, and calm while dealing with [the] multiple challenges of my hectic days,” she says.

Once again, among these ways to focus in a world of distractions, we read that meditation is a great method to clear your mind, and thus to focus.  I also appreciated the part about doing less to achieve more, not because I’m lazy, but because attempting to do too many things at once, or multitasking, ends up being must less productive than focusing on one task at a time.

Click here to view the original source of the article

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Meditation Increases Focus and Reduces Stress

If you haven’t already tried meditating in order to focus, then this article might just entice you to do so. Meditation increases focus and reduces stress according to Heidi Thompson who has recently written a book called CALM FOCUS JOY: The Power of Breath Awareness.

Thompson writes, “The world’s most valuable resource is the human mind. Let us do everything within our power to protect, nurture, and develop this precious commodity. We know that happiness and health are achievable through the cultivation of calmness, focus, and joy; therefore, by establishing peace and happiness within, and empowering children in the same way, we will have taken a giant step in transforming our world into a better place.”

I think a number of people turn their noses up at meditation without having a full understanding of the benefits it can bring to your life. This is not the first time that I have read how meditation increases focus and reduces stress. It may just be worth picking up a copy of this book to see how it could make a difference in your life. What are your thoughts on meditation?

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