With the New Year, consider: the new you!
Many of us take paying attention for granted, but like anything else, it’s something that must be practiced. With the holidays behind us, many of us might feel a sense of relief, but at the same time, we might be having some difficulty getting back into our routines. It could take a concerted effort to focus. Even when we try to make our way through our to-do lists, the demands of everyday living, coupled with distractions, can make the art of focusing a challenge. Sometimes it may be necessary to make slight changes in our actions and behaviors to improve our focus, and thus be more productive.
In addition to taking external actions that can facilitate focusing, there are ways to do so inwardly. In general, focusing moves inward and pulls information from the deeper and wiser self, or the body.
In his book Focusing, the late psychotherapist Eugene T. Gendlin, PhD, explained how to be in touch with, or focus on, our felt sense (somewhere in the body) as a way to be present and deal with what might be bothering us. Having focus can lead to a special type of awareness. He suggested that there are six steps in this process:
1) Clear a space for yourself and ask yourself, “How are you?” Think, but don’t obsess about what prevents you from feeling fine.
2) Pay attention to your felt sense—what are you feeling in your body about a particular problem or issue?
3) Get a handle (provide a word or image that comes to mind in regard to #2).
4) Resonate (go back and forth between the word or image and your felt sense). When they match, then feel that for a minute.
5) Ask, “What is it about the problem that makes me feel so_____?”
The idea behind #5 is to wait for your body to answer the question. Feel where there is a stirring within you.
6) Receive—welcome what came to you, and be aware.
Engaging in this type of focusing practice is yet another reminder to look inward. Having an inner focus helps us become more intuitive and make better decisions. This practice also allows us to more easily navigate this new decade we’re about to enter and be able to handle professional, personal, and health challenges.
While the above addresses dealing with the internal practice of focusing, here are some external practices that can also facilitate your ability to focus:
· Turn off your cell phone.
· Go for a walk.
· Tidy up your desk and work area.
· Get back into your customary routines.
· Avoid multitasking.
· Make a to-do list.
· Keep only one tab open on your computer.
· Set a time limit for social media interactions.
· Listen to music that helps you concentrate.
· Get a good night’s sleep.
· Maintain a daily mindfulness meditation practice.
Finding focus can result in major shifts in your feelings and what you can accomplish. Focusing can help you live from a deeper and more productive place. Also, when you’re able to focus, you’ll learn to read your body’s messages. This is called body awareness. It’s also about taking control over your life, which in the end is very empowering.
Remember, focusing is like a muscle, and the more you practice it, the better you’ll be at it. Focusing holds your life together, so once you stop doing so, you might find that things start going awry. Remember, you are what you pay attention to.
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