Have you ever been sitting on a conference call and your mind starts to wander while the others on the line are talking? You start going over all the things you need to get done, the things that should have gotten done yesterday, or just about where you wish you could be instead of enduring the call at that very moment. And then…. the line gets quiet for a moment and you snap back and realize that it’s your turn to talk, except you have no idea what question you were even asked! While this may never happen to you, it happens to me ALL.THE.TIME and I’m at the point where I’m feeling like I am going bananas!
According to a recent study conducted by Matthew Killingsworth and Daniel Gilbert, 47 percent of adults (from a 2,000 person sample) were NOT focused on what they were currently doing throughout their day. Another finding from the study suggested that when people’s minds wander, they tend to be less happy. Check and check.
So how do we stop our minds from wandering? To begin with, it is important to find good ways to strengthen our focus and stop the mind wandering. The best way to do this (and one of my favorite things to do!) is meditate.
Ironically, mind wandering is a central element of focused attention (FA) meditation. In this specific style of meditiation you are required to keep your attention on a single object (believe me it’s harder than it sounds!). Typically, you start with just focusing on your breathing. Try it for a few minutes and see what happens!
If you are anything like me, before long your mind will start to wander away from your breathing and venture into planning, analyzing, etc… you know the drill. By traning yourself to recognize when your mind starts to wander away from your primary focus you are building your brains mental strength. After much FA meditiation practice, you will be able to know when your mind is slipping away in a meeting and be able to deliberately bring yourself back to the moment. That ability only improves with training.
The key here is to learn how to become aware of your mental tendancies and use them purposefully, rather than letting them consume your mind. Meditation can and will help you better train your mind to stay the course.
Now, where was I…?