Snowflake Snowflake Snowflake Snowflake Snowflake Snowflake Snowflake Snowflake Snowflake Snowflake Snowflake Snowflake Snowflake Snowflake Snowflake Snowflake Snowflake Snowflake Snowflake Snowflake Snowflake Snowflake Snowflake Snowflake

Day 20

Training Your Attention Muscle

Mountain Mountain Mountain Mountain Reindeer tree

In an era of constant mind harassment by digital distractions, we’d do well to train our minds to handle distractions better.

Mindfulness has been trending over the last few years. Originating in Eastern philosophies, mindfulness is the skill of focusing the mind, bringing your attention to the present moment and letting go of thoughts not relating to the moment.

Let’s quickly address a common rejection of meditation and mindfulness from people new to the concept. People often proclaim “I’m not religious” or “I don’t follow an Eastern religion”. Mindfulness is simply recognising the present moment, there are no religious practices involved or expectations to accept a different God (or one at all).

As the ability to focus is waning in the 21st Century with the continual arousal of dopamine inducing interruptions, proactively training your mind to protect itself with regular mindfulness practice is a way to rebuild your attention muscle.

A well trained mind will notice distracting thoughts, catching them before they pull you away from the task at hand.

In support of this, a 2017 study found mindfulness apps improved people’s focus by 14 per cent and decreased mind-wandering – highlighting that we need not be at the mercy of our smartphones.

Similarly, depression is a known side effect of social media usage. Meditation has been proven to decrease depression. If you’re a regular social media user consider adopting a meditation practice to reduce depression.

Additionally, as discussed previously in the Advent Calendar, technology can severely affect our sleep. The buzz of rogue smartphone notifications wake us and the fear-of-missing-out, caused by apps such as Snapchat and Instagram, entices us to roll over to check our feeds. Regular meditators report improvements in sleep quality allowing us to rest fully.

Whether you choose to adopt a mindfulness practice to proactively focus your mind away from distractions, or to reactively reduce the negative impacts of technology on your mind, or for other reasons – the benefits of a regular mindfulness practice are life-enhancing.

Strategies

Follow these simple strategies for introducing mindfulness into your life.

Meditation apps

Meditation apps are an easy way to break into the world of mindfulness. The dulcet tones of trained teachers educate you on all aspects of meditation. Just choose a meditation, pop your headphones in and you’re suddenly soothed.

The two most popular meditation apps are Calm and Headspace, both available on iOS and Android. Both take you through a series of relaxing guided meditations breaking you into the world of mindfulness easily. Their start-small attitude won’t have you crossed legged at the top of Everest right away, but you will feel an immediate sense of calmness – so uncommon in our current age. Unfortunately neither apps are free but with a vast array of meditations specific to your needs and a daily reminder, a small subscription cost is well worth it.

Oak is an alternative meditation app. It’s beautiful design, calming guided meditations and effective breathing exercises will have your mind both relaxed and strengthened. The app is free but currently only available on iOS.

Guided meditation audio & video

An alternative to meditation apps are guided meditation tracks. These are audio or video tracks without the support of a dedicated app. But they can be accessed anywhere.

Sam Harris, neuroscientist, philosopher and bestselling author, has released a couple free guided meditations here and here.

Tara Brach, psychologist and meditation advocate, has a comprehensive list of guided meditations with different focuses of varying lengths.

The Guided Meditation playlist on Spotify has 123 guide meditations to help you stay build your attention muscle.

And finally, YouTube has an extensive range of guided meditation videos.

We hope these stategies help you build your attention muscle and stay focused in our world of distractions.

Further reading

Author

Fraser Deans

Today's article was written by Fraser Deans. Fraser is a Digital Product Designer and founder of The Wholesome Technology Company, focused on practicing and spreading ideas for living well with technology.

Snowflake Snowflake Snowflake Snowflake Snowflake Snowflake Snowflake Snowflake Snowflake Snowflake Snowflake Snowflake Snowflake Snowflake Snowflake Snowflake Snowflake Snowflake Snowflake Snowflake Snowflake Snowflake Snowflake Snowflake
Mountain Mountain Mountain Fox Penguin Tree

Get a reminder when The 2019 Digital Wellbeing Calendar is unveiled

Please include an email address
Loading
Loading

Ho ho ho! You're almost subscribed, please check your inbox for a confirmation email.