Concentrate ???

Concentrate--- you have heard this word from your earliest years--- parents, teachers, bosses----- they all tell you to concentrate then they  rush on to the “What” they want you concentrate upon—they do not ever teach you how to concentrate. 


Just pause for a minute--- if you had to tell people how to concentrate, what would you say to them?

Ok – not easy?

Concentration needs space and time to develop, you have to allow your mind to calm, come to a standstill---- or at least allow the thoughts that are not contributing at this precise moment to fade into the background.

Concentration is focussing on one thing to the exclusion of non essential thoughts.

This means that your mind carries on processing information to keep you alive and safe but focuses on what you are choosing to work on by excluding those thoughts that are not connected to that topic.

Sounds simple--- BUT----- we are used to paying attention to every thought that comes along--- as it arrives—that’s like answering every email the second it arrives even though you are in the middle of some other task. That situation is not concentration, its not even multi-tasking because you have an uncontrolled avalanche of information constantly flowing over you which means nothing ever gets fully resolved.

Have you ever been in a busy café where there are several parents with young children, the children may be running about and making noise but the parents seem totally oblivious not the mayhem around them, until something happens, a different cry or shout that alerts them to a danger or accident, in a split second they are totally focused and aware of the situation. That describes how the human mind works, when everything is normal. Thoughts come and go, charging about but not really of any consequence, easily ignored.

When we are under stress we tend to become aware of those thoughts,--- all of them--- because in among them might be the solution to whatever issue we are trying to rersolve. We switch h off the filter and let everything through BUT this may or may not work, and if it doesn’t work it makes things worse because we then feel that we need to deal with thoughts that normally would not even get our attention. That in turn slows us down, takes away our focus, makes us less productive and thus builds even more stress.


 Concentration is the setting aside consciously, all those random and unhelpful thoughts. The way to start this is to stop—physically come to a halt, sit or stand—just be still----be aware of your breathing—is it fast or slow, shallow or deep? Take control by loosening all your muscles and taking a deep breath and letting it out slowly--- this action tells your mind to stop. It is that simple—try it.

OK now in that state of calm you can look around and take stock of where you are, what you need to do next. This is focusing the mind and from that concentration develops BUT you need to say to yourself—I am doing this now / first because hearing yourself say something like that( either out loud or just in your head) builds the concentration--- makes it real. Then all the extraneous thoughts--- the ones you do not need are out of the picture, you know what you are doing  and you have chosen to do that thing now and until you choose to do else. If you feel the focus slipping, if you notice yourself going of target or off at some tangent you simply stop, breathe and refocus. It gets easier and easier because it is always easier to continue along the path you were following that to divert to another. If you have reached this point you are concentrating, so if you can do this you can do it any time because you are always in control—even though it sometimes does not appear to be that way--- YOU are in control of Your thoughts, you set the limits and the boundaries


© Martin Williams 2013/15/16