Memory and Focus Meditation
How great would it be if we were able to be more aware of what is happening to us, by us and even in us—all in the present moment?
We would be more productive, more considerate, more peaceful and even more cheerful. It’s not difficult at all to achieve that in-the-moment focus. For those hoping to enhance focused attention, meditation is the path. Simply sitting and allowing all your thoughts and distractions that arise to come and go clears the mind, enabling it to become more focused as we desire.
Seriously, you don’t need to go to expensive seminars, read volumes of neuroscience journals or take time out of your busy schedule to visit focus coaches—whatever they are. You hold the ability to bring about this change right between your ears.
Like any new skill you are trying to develop, it’s all about practice. Want to be better at baseball? Practice baseball. Want to improve your dancing? Then dance more. The more you focus, the better your focus will become. When learning how to improve memory and focus through meditation, there are a few helpful tips. You don’t have to try all of them when first starting off. In fact, incorporating too many of these could create more distraction, thereby defeating the purpose.
All About the Breath
One of the most fundamental aspects of practicing meditation for focus is your breath. There are many ways to focus on the breath—you can be aware of each individual inhalation and exhalation or just focus on the outbreath. In any case, be aware of each breath. Notice the sensation of the cool air as it comes in through your nose and the warm air as you breathe out. Feel your lungs expand and contract. Or count each cycle of your breath as one, continue up to seven if you can and then start over at one. The point is not to be the world’s champion breath counter, but to train your mind to focus.
Make it a point to sit still during your focus meditation session. Whether you are on a chair or a mat, keep your back straight with your head held upright. The newer you are to the practice of meditation, the more challenging this may be. Most people haven’t spent time focusing on their posture before, therefore the body may to slump. By paying attention to this urge to slouch and correcting our posture, we are actually working on our focus.
Repeat After Me
Mantras are very popular meditation mechanisms. Practicing with an altruistic motivation, mantras can imbed strong, positive aspirations into your consciousness. Even on an elementary level, they can be used as a focus-improvement technique. A simple mantra such as silently saying “Breathing in, I clear my mind” on the in-breath, followed by “Breathing out, I’m free” on the out-breath can be very effective in that regard.
Guided By Voices
If your mind tends to wander while meditating—and let’s face it, whose doesn’t—you might want to find a good guided meditation to keep you on track. Focus on the words of the individual’s voice. Do what they instruct you to do. Let them lead the way and just focus on following their peaceful and soothing voice. In fact, you can find great guided meditations right here on Mindworks.
Make a Fashion Statement
You’ve seen those beaded bracelets on people’s wrists, right? Those aren’t trendy trinkets or things to wear to generate awareness for a cause. They are called mala beads. You can slip it off your wrist and slide one bead through your fingers with each breath. This is a great technique to use to help you remain focused on your breathing.
Take a Walk
Walking meditation can also improve your focus. Set aside a few minutes to walk slowly and mindfully, paying attention to the movement of your legs and feet as they touch the earth. In the same way you notice your breathing during sitting meditation, notice that you’re mindfully walking. It’s best to start with walking meditation as a deliberate practice; then you can gradually become more aware whenever you walk. By mindfully taking one step after the next, you have the opportunity to contemplate your connectedness with the planet. Each focused step reinforces that.
Just as with walking meditation, eating offers a way to improve focus and strengthen our connection to Mother Earth. Pay attention to every bite you put into your mouth, experience the taste and notice what’s happening in your mind at the same time. Are you rushing to finish your meal, wanting to distract yourself with a book or your phone while you eat? You can also contemplate gratitude for the farmer, sun, rain and soil that helped the crops grow.
Try incorporating some of the above tips into your meditation practice. Not only will you have more quality alone time with your mind, you’ll also improve your focus. And that will pay dividends in every other aspect of your life.