Can Meditation Help You Focus? Why Practicing Mindfulness Is The Key To Concentration
Have you ever had an insane amount of tabs open on your computer and the moment you closed them, you instantly felt like your mind was clear again? Same here, and TBH, that's exactly how I feel when I meditate — it's the best thing ever. Meditation has the power to help you focus, improve your concentration, and even be used as a tool to overcome procrastination — if practiced consistently, of course. Yes, my friends, it's that good.
It might be hard to believe that sitting on the ground, breathing deeply, and closing your eyes for a few minutes a day could actually have such a transformative effect on your brain, but in an interview with Elite Daily, Dr. Sal Raichbach PsyD LCSW of Ambrosia Treatment Center explains just why mindfulness works so effectively.
“Meditation is an excellent practice for reducing stress and increasing happiness, but it also helps your ability to focus," Raichbach says. "Many people think of meditation as a trance-like state where your mind is entirely at rest, but that isn’t necessarily the truth."
Raichbach explains that while your mind is in a more restful, relaxed state while meditating, you achieve the so-called ~zen~ feeling by concentrating and focusing all of your attention on one thing.
Basically even though you're practicing the art of releasing mental tension and diminishing stress, the focus required is pretty freaking demanding, people. To make the process less intimidating, Raichbach suggests picking a single point to focus on in your mind's eye.
"The object of focus could be your breathing, relaxing a muscle group or even a designated focal point," Raichbach says. "When a distracting thought comes up during meditation, you simply let that thought pass and return to the object of focus."
Sounds pretty straightforward, but it's easy to get frustrated with yourself when you're a beginner meditator. Remember that the goal isn't perfection, here. If you get side-tracked or distracted, simply return to your focal point without judging yourself for your wandering mind (which is totally normal).
Skye Alexander, co-author of the booksThe Best Meditations on the Planet and Meditate: A Guided Journal, has a copious amount of tips and tricks to make focusing during meditation way less intimidating and much more accessible.
"People often think meditation is sitting cross-legged and chanting OM, but there are many other ways to meditate too," Alexander tells Elite Daily. "For some people, active meditations such as walking, swimming, or performing special movements may be a better way to clear and focus their minds, and for others gazing at a flickering candle flame or attentively observing a flower [would work best]."
Alexander says that the key is to be mindful of each each step or motion, and to not give in to distractions (for example, turn off the phone, girlfriend).
To get into a consistent routine of mindfulness, Alexander says it's best to meditate at the same time each day so that you'll develop a routine and your mind will start to prepare itself for meditation as that time nears.
She advises to start short and sweet with just five to 10 minutes, and build up gradually to a longer meditation session once you begin getting the gist of things. Don't think that just because you're meditation for a shorter time, though, that it's not benefitting your ability to better focus. "Even a few minutes a day will help," Alexander confirms.
It'll be super foreign and possibly challenging AF, at first, but Raichbach says that practice and patience is key to reaping all of the focus infused, anti-procrastination benefits that meditation brings.
"Meditating, like anything else, takes practice," Raichbach tells Elite Daily. "Your attention-span is like a muscle, and you have to train that muscle to improve your focus."
By practicing the skill of letting distractions come and go without losing focus on the task at hand, you'll hone in on a laser-like sense of concentration that only mindfulness practice can bring. Exactly like the enormous satisfaction of organizing or closing out all those cluttered tabs in your Google Chrome window, amirite?