We are in an era of distraction, covered in our own tailor-made stream of information that enters our electronic devices as notifications, alerts, texts, videos, GIFs etc. We even binge-watch online shows and several other programmes that keep our brains in a puzzled state. According to studies conducted by the Department of Psychology, University of Miami, it has been found that there are specific activities and exercises that can strengthen our ability to focus and pay attention to where it needs the most.
Practicing mindfulness helps in many ways and of course, acquiring attention gets better with practice and time, uncovering other benefits such as reduced anxiety, shield from depression, improved memory, etc. Mindfulness has nothing to do with spirituality or religion, it’s just paying attention to the current moment with full awareness. Trainers around the world, on a basic level, stick around two prime categories; focused attention and open monitoring.
Forms of Focused Attention is basically about focusing on one single entity at a time, like one’s breath, which is mindful breathing. One can sit in a comfortable upright position and focus on the sensation of breathing. It’s all about trying to focus on something that is linked to our sensory escapade when our mind wanders like a gaseous molecule in the air. Other ways such as mindful walking, where we try to focus on the walk, try to feel the sensation of the feet as it moves on the ground below. Body scan exercise is a systematic approach, starting from the top of our head or bottom of the feet and slowly travelling with focus through the entire body.
The second category is about Open Monitoring which is just the opposite act but the element of focus is very much intact here as well. Over here, we don’t adhere to concentrating on a particular thing but rather try to vibe with the surrounding. If we are in a room, we will close our eyes and, try to hear sounds, smell the air, touch and feel the objects within our reach, feel the comfort or hardness of our seat or chair, etc.
Experts also suggest that if the mind wanders a lot and feels lost, then it’s better to switch to focused attention exercises before going for open monitoring practice. Researchers say, the effectiveness of any sort of mindfulness activity depends on time, where benefits are visible if practiced for about 15 minutes a day, 5 days a week and at least for 4 weeks.