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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Concentration (07/24/08)

TITLE: Conquering Concentration
By Pastor Bobby Keating
07/29/08


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Everyone has the ability to concentrate sometimes; while playing your guitar or piano or during a spellbinder of a movie - total concentration.

However, at other times your thoughts are scattered and your mind races from one thing to another. This is especially frustrating for a writer. You try your best to concentrate on your subject for an article or a book and your mind jumps from one unrelated thought to another. Often, even during prayer, your mind seems to wonder. There is hope.

You need to learn and practice some effective concentration strategies for the times that you have the greatest problem concentrating on one particular thing or theme. This involves (1) learning mental self-control and (2) arranging immediate environmental elements that you can control.

Learning any skill takes practice... whether it is playing basketball, typing, writing, or concentrating.
Effective concentration strategies require practice.

Using concentration enhancing techniques can bring about positive, noticeable results within a few days. You'll notice considerable improvement within four to six weeks of training your mind with some of the skills that follow. That's a short period of time considering how many years you've spent not concentrating as well as you would like.

This deceptively simple strategy is probably the most effective. When you notice your thoughts wandering astray, say to yourself "Im happy to be here now" and gently bring your attention back to where you want it.

An example:
You're sitting at your desk and your attention strays from the article youre writing to you phone bill or something your spouse said earlier; to an appointment you have tomorrow, to the fact that you're hungry. You say to yourself Im happy to be here now." This distracts you from the other distractions and gives you the opportunity to maintain your attention on the task at hand as long as possible. When you thoughts wander again, repeat "Im happy to be here now gently bringing your attention back to the task at hand.

You may notice that your mind often wanders (often several times a minute.) Each time simply say "Im happy to be her now." This positive affirmation will refocus you attention.

Do not try to keep particular thoughts out of your mind. For example, as you sit there, close your eyes and think about anything you want to for the next three minutes except cookies. Try not to think about cookies...When you try not to think about something, it keeps coming back. ("I'm not going to think about cookies. I'm not going to think about cookies.")

When you find your thoughts wandering, gently let go of that thought and, with your "Im happy to be here now," return to the present task. You might do this hundreds of times a week, if you're normal. But, you'll find that the period of time between your straying thoughts and periods of concentration gets a little longer every few days. So be patient and keep at it. You'll see some improvement!

Concentration is a learned behavior. There are many strategies that can be used to train your self or to discipline your thought actions. Its simply a matter of diligently studying you own patterns and training yourself in the direction that you want to go.

There are several exercises that you can do to improve your concentration skills. You can 'Increasing Your Activity Level,' 'Change Topics,' 'Chart your energy levels,' 'Alter the Lighting in the room,' 'Sit on a not overly comfortable chair,' 'Alter your posture several times,' and many other techniques.

During the day make 'thought notes pertaining to your subject on index cards. Before you sit to work, place the cards around in view. The objective is to train your self to be consistent in your concentration skills.

Take a few minutes each day and make notes about yourself, your levels of concentration, when you drift off onto other subjects. Make a conscious effort to map your levels of concentration.

Youll find, the more you use a technique(which technique depends on what works for you), the easier it will be to keep yourself on track. Be diligent!


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Member Comments
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Verna Cole Mitchell 08/02/08
You've offered some really helpful suggestions for improving concentration. The one that struck me most was, "I'm happy to be here."
Thank you for the ideas and the way you presented them.