Scanning the landscape and choosing what to focus on and what to leave in the background is one of our greatest gifts. An yet, says Daniel Goleman, bestselling author of Emotional Intelligence, we squander our focus by getting lost in a sea of distractions. Why not train and improve this ability instead? Try these three simple exercises to familiarize yourself with the power of a focused mind:
1. What’s in front of you. Take a relaxed seated position. Locate something in your field of vision and start putting your focus on it. As thoughts carry you away – including thoughts about the object itself – return to placing your attention on it. Now, let your gaze be looser. Still take in the object, but also a little more of what’s around it. Then tighten your focus on the object again. Notice the power you have to choose what to center your attention on.
2. Peripheral vision. Pay attention to the periphery of your vision. As your attention naturally comes back to the center, gently bring it back to the periphery. Repeat this for 5 minutes.
3. Something to contemplate. Choose a person your admire and contemplate their good qualities for a few minutes. If your mind strays, return to focusing on their good qualities. Then choose one quality and appreciate it for a little while. Notice whether this focusing results in good feelings.
These 5-minute exercises will help you explore the experience of a focused mind. Give it a try.