In the last post, I talked about how the mind is like a demon, seeking attention, demanding engagement, and always needing to be preoccupied with some sort of task or activity.
If it is not, like a hyperactive child, it irritates, annoys, and bothers us, leading to distraction and loss of focus.
To keep yourself from being distracted by your own mind, it helps to preoccupy it. It’s like sitting a hyperactive child in front of the television so you can go about your day.
So, how can you do this?
Here are few strategies many have found useful.
An easy way to preoccupy an overactive mind is with a riddle or puzzle. Read a riddle or look at a puzzle, and without glancing at the answer, let your mind sit on it. Or look at something fascinating and have your mind figure out how it works. This gives the demon mind something to contemplate. While it is contemplating, you can do other things.
Often the demon mind seeks movement. It wants to be up and physically moving. If that is what your mind desires, try to read or study while walking. You might walk in your room, office, or on a treadmill or stationary bike. If you seek to evaluate various options, you might go for a light jog around the block. While the demon body is focused on the task of moving, you can focus on the task of reading and evaluating.
The trick with physical activity is to choose activities the demon mind can take over with little assistance from you. If the activity requires your utmost attention, then you will not be able to focus on what you are really trying to do. As a result, the activity itself will become a distraction. This suggestion is more difficult to put into practice, but with a bit of creativity, I'm sure you’ll find a way to make it work.
Music is a wonderful way to improve focus. The beat, rhythm, and pattern distract the demon mind exceptionally well. As the saying goes, music soothes the savage soul. In this case, the demon mind.
Good options for music are those that don’t have lyrics because words in lyrics require attention to process. You’d be surprised, but there are many genres of music that lack lyrics, from classical, jazz, ambient, electronic to all types of instrumental.
4. Background Noise
If you don’t find music helpful, try background noise. When the environment is silent, we begin to notice all the chatter of the demon mind inside our head. Much of the chatter is not helpful and rarely concerned with what is important in the moment. Background noise is a great way to drown out the inner chatter.
Background noise include cafeteria, office, street, or noise in a coffee shop. Research shows medium chatter of a busy coffee shop at about 65 decibels can distract the demon mind just enough to think more clearly. Research also shows background noise of nature like sound of ocean, waterfalls, and rain is even more effective.
These are a couple suggestions to occupy and distract your mind so it doesn't distract you. Next time you are distracted by yourself, try one of these suggestions. They can have a big influence on your ability to concentrate on what's important.
If you'd like more suggestions on improving concentration, you don't want to miss out on my best selling book Concentration: Maintain Laser Sharp Focus and Attention for Stretches of 5 Hours or More.