Focusing the Attention

“There are no signs that the forces splitting our attention into ever smaller slices will abate. On the contrary, (with so many modern electronic devices enabling instant communication),they’re getting stronger. Already , many devotees see mindfulness as an indispensable tool for coping – both emotionally and practically – with the daily onslaught. The ability to focus for a few minutes on one thing isn’t silly if the skills it requires are the keys to surviving and succeeding in the 21st century.”                                                                                                  Time Magazine

‘When you settle down to complete a task, are you often distracted? How often do you lose your car keys? Burn food on the stove? Forget to phone the plumber? Forget to save information on your computer? Save it, but can’t remember where? Most of us have episodes like these. Quite simply, when we are not present, our attention is not focused on the task at hand. Instead of mind and body working in harmony, the mind is somewhere else.

So, while you are carving the chicken, you are already thinking about the rugby match on TV after the meal. As you wash the dishes, your mind is picturing the cup of coffee and the week-end newspapers that await you afterwards.’   (Chapter 2 : Focusing the Attention; Living in the Now: less stress, more happiness  by Jill Jacques, available as a download on Amazon)

We waste so much time focusing on past and future rather than being present NOW.

Here’s a simple exercise to help focus the attention: Choose an activity that you carry out often eg washing your hands; brushing your teeth, driving the car. Let this activity be your reminder to focus your attention fully on the task, eg, brushing your teeth – taste the toothpaste, feel the brush against your teeth and gums, smell the minty smell. After a week consider how focused attention changes the quality of your chosen activity. What did you find?

Being in the present empowers you to do your best without unnecessary stress.

Be kind and gentle with yourself. 


About Jill M Jacques

I grew up in Johannesburg, South Africa, and have spent most of my life here doing the usual things - marrying, having children and caring for an array of pets ranging from dogs to silkworms and chameleons. I first became interested in philosphy and its practical application in everyday life in my early 20s and spent many years as part of a group that pursued this goal. Drawing on this experience, I have been running "How to live in the Now" programmes for over 10 years. I wrote this book in response to requests from group members for something "simple and practical". I tend to see the funny side of life situations and enjoy writing humorous back pages as well as short stories and some poetry. Some of these have been published. Being here now is what really matters.
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2 Responses to Focusing the Attention

  1. In the Stillness of Willow Hill says:

    Ok, I’ll confess that I burned food today because I was so engrossed in writing a blog post. I was HERE NOW at my computer and NOT THERE THEN for my onions and celery.

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