Focus is a beautiful calm state where work seems effortless and you can fly through your to-do list. But too often, work is one distraction after another and you end your day exhausted with little to show. The reason for this is: without training your brain exists in a state called the monkey mind. It’s called this because your mind moves from one thought to the next like a monkey swinging from tree to tree. Meditation is simply training for your mind, so that you can control your thoughts instead of your thoughts controlling you.
Studies have shown many benefits for meditation from reducing stress to improving memory (1). But one of the biggest benefits of meditation is improving your focus. You can even practice meditation right at your desk. See an example of a desk-based meditation for focus, right here.
Focus is that flow state where we can sit for hours without effort or distractions. Instead of wishing for home time, we achieve a timeless state of productive enjoyment. But focus is like a muscle; without training, internal and external distractions are going to win. If you ever feel like you’ve had a busy day but not achieved what you needed to, then that’s a sign to flex your focus muscle.
As a Chartered Accountant I know that some people think that meditation is some spiritual thing that only yogi’s do. And many view meditating as recreational, with no place in the workplace. But as a yoga teacher I know that meditation has real benefits for business and productivity. And the awesome thing is that a good meditation leaves you feeling great too.
What successful people do differently is that they focus on their priorities. They get the important stuff done before anything else. The problem with our minds isn’t too little activity, it’s too much unfocussed activity. The mind is a thought making machine. Thoughts are wonderful things, but before you realise it, all those thoughts take you away from your focus state.
The first thing that meditation does is that it trains our minds to realise that our focus has drifted. Because the first problem of being distracted is that you haven’t realised that you’re distracted. “Look squirrel”. The next part of meditation is that it trains your mind to come back to your focus.
Some people think they don’t have the time to meditate but meditation will help you to break free from time-wasting activities. Meditation helps you to have a clarity of vision and drop into an enjoyable & productive flow state. Think about how much time you waste when you aren’t focussed. Simply put you’re going to be a lot more productive after meditating. As an added bonus, frequent meditators report needing less sleep.
Sometimes our mind seems like a chatterbox, full of distracting thoughts. And at other times it seems like we need a double espresso before we can do anything else. But the wonderful thing about our mind is that it’s plastic so we can train it to do almost anything. When you feel tired or struggling to focus at work, instead of smashing another coffee, try meditating.
If you’ve ever toyed with the idea of meditating, there’s no better time to start than now. Experiment with the 30-day meditation challenge and see what it does for your productivity, energy and sense of wellbeing.
A single meditation will put your mind into a focus state. And a regular meditation practice will train it to stay there.