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Learning to Focus

One of the most important ways in which you can improve not only your psychic powers but also your day to day life in your job, your home, and your leisure activities is to build up your ability to focus. Every religion in the world - from Christianity to Buddhism, from Wiccans to Atheists - recognizes the value of meditation and focus.

Focus is about being able to concentrate fully, intently, without distractions, on a thought or concept or process. In our modern world of multi-tasking, where IMs are popping up and music is blaring and people are yelling, it can be incredibly hard to focus! That is why retreats are so popular. People need to get away from the noise and chaos and pulls on their time. They want to be able to simply SIT and be with their own thoughts even for a day or two.

Do you find yourself forgetting what you went into a room to fetch? Do you lose track of what someone is saying to you? Is there just too much to do, and not enough time to do it in? That is what focus is all about. It is about learning to pinpoint your time and energy on one task and to do it really well.

Buddha said "The mind is everything. What you think you become.". This is echoed in the Bible - "As a man thinks in his heart, so is he." (Proverbs 23:7) A Chinese proverb reads, "Relaxation is who you are." In every culture there are sayings that remind us to slow down, to pay attention to what is within, because that is what really matters. Learning focus is a key to reaching your goals.

So how do you do that?

If you want your limbs to become more flexible, you work on stretching them gently every day. If you want your mind to be more sharp, you practice words games daily. The same is true for building up your ability to focus. The more you practice at this task, the better your mind becomes in staying focused even in the most challenging of situations.

Find even five minutes in your day when you can have some time to yourself. Some people wake up five minutes earlier, when the household is asleep. Other people wait until everyone else has gone to bed for the evening and take their five minutes then. Maybe there's five minutes mid-day that work best for you. Whatever you can do, dedicate that time to building your focus.

Get a quiet spot and sit down. Some people like to do this with their eyes closed, while others like their eyes open and looking at something specific - a candle flame, their hands, an image. Again whatever works for you is best. There is no right or wrong here. Take in long deep breaths and let them out again. Let your body relax.

The key here is to NOT try to "think of nothing." Don't fight with yourself over thoughts that come urgently into your mind. Remember, this is about practice, and when you first began riding a bike you fell down often. That's OK. Thoughts are *going* to come into your mind and that is fine. Accept that they come in, imagine they are drifting clouds that are beyond your control, and then let them go. That is, you cannot control that they appear in your mind. However, you can control the attention you pay to them once they are there. If you gently, kindly ignore them, and let them drift away, then usually they will float out of your mind again.

Sure, sometimes they'll stay. And yes, sometimes the moment one thought drifts away another one will drift in. Remember, that is all fine. Don't give up and think "this is not working". Again that's like a piano student giving up because they hit a wrong note. This is about practice and learning skills. The mere fact that you are sitting for five minutes and training your mind to think about the thoughts is the important part. Even if you go for all five minutes with thoughts in your mind, that is fine. The activity you spent realizing they are floating thoughts, and looking at them from a distance, is what you are practicing here.

Occasionally as the weeks pass you will find that you DO have pauses where there are no thoughts, and that it feels wonderful. You will begin to develop the skill to have a clear mind. If you get to the point where you can meditate for twenty minutes, practitioners talk about reaching a state of pure bliss - sort of like a "runner's high." It's a free, easy, natural way to feel amazing! And it provides very real health and mental benefits as well.

Post in our forums as you work to develop your skills on focus!

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