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Monday, June 9, 2014

9 Ways to improve concentration. Economics of thought : part-2

Our brain holds all the information that was, is or will be present in this universe. All inventions, all discoveries are mere unfolding of the knowledge that is already pervasively present everywhere. Sir Isaac Newton uncovered the lid off the knowledge of the force of gravity, the force of gravity is always present since the beginning. But a discovery is made when the mind is focused on an idea or thought. And when that idea is allowed sufficient time to become a firm theory and us followed by befitting action. But the catch is there is no easy way to focus the mind, otherwise each of us would have been discoverers. The mind is the ultimate creation if god. He has stuffed every but of information that is past present and future and beyond them into the mind. If this sounds impossible,let me explain with an example. Take the example of a seed, given the right conditions and nourishments it has the power to produce the mammoth tree. Similarly a focused brain energy can do wonders.
Controlling the thoughts and focussing our attention on one idea is very much achievable. But there are no quick fixes and easy ways.  So don't expect that you will  read a few articles and know the art of mind control.All writings and lectures are for the general guidance, but ultimately you have to discover your own ways to tackle the problems of life and the ways to proceed. One of my teachers use to say "Life is difficult. if anyone is saying otherwise,he is selling something". So you have to fight your own battle. Controlling the thoughts and focussing our attention on a desired topic, like achievement of any goal, needs insight, dedicated effort and practice.Below are some steps which can help you to focus your concentration. These are not serial step by step guide, but are different ways to increase your concentration.

1. Physical well being
2. Fixed time
3. Develop an association
4. Avoid multiple inputs
5. Read something everyday
6. Avoid extremes of emotion
7. Discipline in life
8. Learn from mistakes
9. Habit forming

1. Physical wellbeing:
A healthy mind can reside only inside a healthy body. This is the most important part of excellence in life. As you might have heard genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. So to perspire we need physical fitness and persevernce. Take up a regular routine of physical exercise, be it going to gym or home based pilates yoga etc. Do whatever suits you best and something which interests you and not difficult to continue. Have a fixed time in the day for exercise, any time which suits you is OK. But do try to maintain it everyday. Sometimes we feel the urgency to do some other thing and try to omit exercise. But we must realize that,those 30 minutes of exercise will go a long way to save our time and energy.Usually while starting a new physical exercise schedule,
we tend to lose motivation after the initial four five days. So keep this fact in mind and just try to continue even if you don't feel like. After a month you will be habituated to the routine. There are numerous benefits of physical exercise. Thousands of articles are available on this topic, try to read some just to motivate yourself to start.
2.Fixed time:
The brain is like an wild animal when uncontrolled. The brain needs regular and rigorous training to be controlled. As fire can be produced only from dry woods, similarly brain will function optimally only when trained to a certain extent. One of the best ways to train a brain is to do a thing at a fixed time. If you are a student fix one particular time to study everyday. That way when you practice for a few months, the brain gets tuned to a particluar activity at a
particular time and chances of deviating or wandering wil be less.
3. Develop an Association:
Have you heard about Pavlov's dog ? If not, read this (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Classical_conditioning). There is something called
conditioning, where we train our brains to behave in a certain way in a given situation. Why do we feel deep emotions for our near and dears? Because our brain is trained to feel their sorrows and happiness. Similarly if we try to develop a sense of attachment to our work, the brain wil develop elaborate mechanism to make us happy merely by performing our work. Similar to Pavlov's dog experiment it takes time to develop an association and condition the brain, and once we stop there is again deconditing or unlearning. There are two important concepts here : one is establishing an association and second is conscious efforts to maintain the association.
4. Avoid multiple inputs:
Our brain functions best when we direct our attention to one particular task. That's what focus means, to concentrate on one thing. A magifying glass burns a paper only when it focuses the rays of the sun. Similarly we need to focus our mental energy on one activity. So don't play music while studying, even if you are habituated to it. Take up a new habit of reading, without music. Don't keep your mobile phone near you while reading or doing something serious, unless you need the phone for the work. Phone is for your convenience so use it like that.
5. Reading something everyday:
Reading is like meditation. When you read something you love, your mind is absolutely focussed on that. During that time the mind is static and wandering is minimal. Even a few minutes of reading something you love refreshes the mind. The idea is to train the mind to focus on something for some duration of time. And the best way to start is to read something you love. Once that habit is there we can extrapolate that habit for other activities.
6. Avoid extremes of emotion:
Extremes of anything is bad. Sound is audible only within a range, any sound above or below that frequency is inaudible. Always always avoid extremes of emotions. Too much anger or too much happiness produces the same effect. It destabilizes the brain. It needs some amount of conscious effort  to control our emotions, but they can be controlled. Our emotions affect our interpretation of a situation and that leads to a commensurate action. There are three stages of activity depending upon our mental status : inactivity, equilibrium and hyperactivity. Avoid the inactivity and hyperactivity. I am not saying it is easy to achieve, but with practice we can modify our reactions to a situation.
7. Discipline in life:
This is a more general term , but one of the most powerful way of affecting you. General disciples in life like sleeping and waking  up at a particular time, having a regular diet, maintaining a clutter free surrounding etc. You have to invest few minutes to arrange your room , bed, clothes etc. Those few minutes will make your few hours more productive. Unless you invest some minutes you won't get the returns. Like if you arrange your stuff in the evening your morning will have more available time to invest in other things. These things create an environment conducive to enhancing our mental focus.
8. Learn from mistakes:
A weekly review of progress is necessary to know how you are doing. Discard anything tht is not working for you. Sit down and think out your own strategy. Plan the next week. As a wise person identify your mistakes early and rectify earliest.
9. Habit forming:
Whatever is written here, or in fact in any article will be effective only when it is turned into a habit. To get a new habit we have to do a thing  repetitively for around a month. So for the first month don't do frequent review of your progress, just try to stick to a routine. Like a child takes its own time to grow up, similarly a new habit takes time to be internalized. Just stick to it. Dont expect overnight miracles.
Keywords: Inspiration, Writings, Concentration, mind control, mental focus, economics of thought