Focusing with Vision

Modern brain research points to the advantages of learning to focus, to concentrate. This means you will train the ability to intentionally think slower for a little while. It is the ability to quiet your mind. This short exercise is a first practical step you can take to learn, or relearn, this skill.

Of course, regular practice makes you better at focusing. In this case, “better” means you’ll be able to get into this concentrated state of mind faster. One important advantage: Distractions will affect you less. You’ll be able to dismiss disturbing thoughts more easily. These focusing exercises were developed for our students by psychologist Adwin Konsten. They involve taking a few minutes to focus the mind through directing our vision and paying attention to our breathing. Later you will also try focusing on walking. Our students are surprised at how effective these exercises are to help them come to rest and concentrate better. Here is what the psychologist says about them:

“Why are these exercises useful; why should we practice them?
Focusing exercises have many science-backed benefits. To name a few:
– Less stress: When we focus like this, we’re able to override a part of the brain that is responsible for the fear mechanism (this part releases cortisol, the damaging stress hormone that’s responsible for a whole lot of health issues). One study indicates that focusing can cut back on anxiety by almost 40 percent.
– More creativity: Science shows that practising these kind of exercises makes you better at coming up with many possible solutions for a problem.

– Improve memory: Focusing exercises have been shown to not only improve memory; they also help cut back on distracting thoughts.
– Better sleep: In our modern (digital) world it’s difficult to quiet the mind enough to actually be able to fall asleep. Not only does science suggest focusing may help treat insomnia, but experts believe that learning to concentrate can help keep your mind in check throughout the day and reduce stress, thus leading to a better, more calmer night’s sleep.
– Burnout prevention: It’s all too easy to feel overworked with all the tasks we have during the day. Research suggests that taking time to quiet your mind leads to fewer feelings of study- and work-related exhaustion.”

Adwin Konsten, psychologist