Place Your Attention with Intention

Henry Cloud recently popped up in my iTunes list. His books, especially Boundaries and Necessary Endings, have greatly influenced me. In fact, the latter book encouraged me to complete a necessary ending–and with it a couple of new beginnings.

He is a psychologist who studies deeply into neuroscience. He tried a joke on his audience, who evidently was hanging in such awe at his every word that it went over their heads. “The brain is such a wonderful thing, it’s like whoever created it had read the Bible.”  (You’ll get it later.)

So much of the Wisdom literature along with other writings perfectly align with what researchers discovered thousands of years later applying the scientific method.

One thing is attention. We cannot focus on more than one thing. Multitasking is a myth. I like music playing when I’m working. But it must be background “noise”. If it’s singing and the words break through my consciousness, then my focus is done.

If I am deeply concentrating on a task–say in my case it would be writing or reading–and then I interrupt the flow to check email, I am done. Cloud says that research says it takes at least 20 minutes to get back into that flow.

A new person came to my Yoga class last night. The first thing I teach in Yoga is attention–focus on your body, still the mind. I look over at her–a young woman or maybe even high school girl (when you get older like me, they all look young). She has her smartphone out and she’s texting. Ah, my challenge right away is to change her focus and keep her attention on her body and mind for the next 50 minutes. I was proud of her. She didn’t even get the phone out during final relaxation. She was actually still.

And that is just the attitude we need. Intentionally (meaning “on purpose”) focus our minds on our task–whether it’s study, meditation or celebration. Just live in that moment. Let the emails lie for a while. They’ll still be there.

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