What’s your concentration like these days?
If you’re like most people, it’s probably taken a hit thanks to the Internet and constant streams of information.
In fact, research has shown that the average human attention span has fallen from twelve seconds in 2000, or around the time the mobile revolution began, to eight seconds.
Goldfish, meanwhile, are believed to have an attention span of nine seconds.
Buddhist monk, Dandapani, says that there are two reasons our concentration has decreased so rapidly:
1) In schools, we were never actually taught how to concentrate.
2) We never practice concentration.
As Dandapani rightly points out, how can we do something if we’re never taught how to do it?
And how can we be good at something if we don’t practice it?
Unfortunately, with the nature of the internet and massive amounts of information vying for our attention, we’ve been learning to practice distraction.
However, Dandapani stops short of blaming technology for our bad concentration. He says technology is actually a “beautiful thing”. It’s just a matter of how we use it. We need to take back our power and choose what we want to engage with.
So, how do we become good at concentrating? Watch the riveting TED talk below to find out:
Dandapani says that first we need to understand how our minds work. As Dandapani puts it, “you can’t use something to concentrate if you don’t understand it.”
So, how does the mind work?
Monks say that there are two keys to how the mind works. One is the mind and one is awareness.
Dandapani says to imagine awareness as a glowing ball of light. Now imagine your mind as a vast space with many different areas to it, such as joy, art, science, happiness etc…As the ball of light travels across your mind, it can go to any area it wants to and when it goes to a particular area, it lights it up, and you become conscious of it.
The art of concentration is simply the art of keeping the ball of light on one area for an extended period of time. Dandapani says that the key we need to understand is that we’re not the mind. We’re actually the awareness of the mind.
Dandapani says that the best way to practice concentration is to simply do one thing at a time during the day.
If for example you’re having a conversation with your partner, keep the ball of light on your awareness of that person. Give her/him your undivided attention. Every time your awareness wanders, bring it back to as soon as you can. Keep doing this as many times as you can during the day and you’ll begin to learn the art of concentration.