The LifeUp Mindfulness Challenge: Day 15

Focus your attention - and go with the flow

FLOW: Focus, Listen, Observe, Watch

Practise the third mindfulness pillar 'Pay Attention' by using the FLOW technique to help you consciously choose to place your attention on things that really matter and avoid burning it up on things that don't. Get in the 'flow' to energise your life, relationships and work!

F  is for Focus

Education

Focus your attention – Reconnect with the present moment and the task at hand.

In the modern world it can not only be very difficult to switch off but evidence is showing that our attention spans are getting shorter. Our brains are actually rewiring! This is making it difficult for us to hold our attention in the moment.

By practising paying close attention, we can cut through distracting thought chatter and overcome the mind’s predisposition to constantly think, judge and narrate.

That’s why physical activity and other activities that require extreme focus (like rock climbing, hot yoga or surfing) help to still the mind.

Paying attention is not about avoiding or denying unpleasant thoughts, or even our own life situation. Instead, it is about making a conscious decision to attend to that which you want to become stronger in your life.

When we pay attention, we are 'in the flow' – top atheltes describe it as being ‘in the zone’. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi explains it as being “fully immersed in a feeling of energised focus, full involvement and enjoyment in the process of the activity.

Emotions are not just contained and channelled, but positive, energised, and aligned with the task at hand.”


Activity

Practise paying attention:

  1. For ten seconds hold your focus on tip of your left index finger. Hold it so fiercely that there is no room for anything else such as wandering thoughts.
  2. For the next five seconds, continue to look at the finger but allow yourself to think about anything.
  3. Repeat once more - if your mind wanders, bring the focus back onto the finger.

By switching between thought and ‘thoughtless awareness’ in this way, we build our mindfulness muscle to be able to focus when needed.

Did you complete the activity? Congratulations - give yourself a ‘mini high five’!


Take away

By practising paying attention, we build our mindfulness muscle to be able to fully focus when needed and overcome the mind's predisposition to constantly think, judge and narrate.