Can you focus your mind?

By David Joel Miller.

You can shift the focus of your eyes but what about your thoughts?

Mind Focus

Mind Focus
Photo courtesy of Flickr (gwilmore)

In old school photography, every student had to learn selective focus. The goal was to keep one thing in clear focus while letting the other things in the scene blur out and become ambiguous.

If you had a person close to you, then you wanted their face clear and the things behind them, the background, to blur out. If you took a picture through a fence the goal was to get the things far away clear and the fence to blur until it disappeared.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could shift the focus on our minds just like that camera?

Well, some people can do just that.

Often when we interact with others our minds go all over the place. We think about the room temperature and lighting, what we will do after this meeting, what we did yesterday.

We can be overwhelmed and the result is that we lose the ability to pay clear attention to the thing we are doing or the person who we are speaking with.

When we try to relax our minds can become troubled with that swarm of thoughts buzzing around in our head. Things to do, people to call, emails to answer. Did you pay that bill? Should you check Facebook or Twitter first?

Seeing everything at once can result in seeing nothing as your life flows by lost in the jumble of thoughts.

One skill they teach in “mindfulness” training is how to shift that focus of your thinking, how to pay attention to the things you want to attend to and let the rest go. This is a valuable skill to have. The ability to attend to one thing and let the other things blur out is not something we are all born with but a skill that can be developed.

I realize that this selective attention or mindfulness can be more difficult for people with certain disorders like ADHD, but with the constant flow of information overload, all of us are at risk of losing our mental focus if we do not learn to attend to one thing out of a swarm of thoughts in our heads.

Do you sometimes feel like a traffic cop trying to direct thousands of unruly thoughts traveling within your head?

This age we live in has more information available than ever before. There are constantly things to do and distractions everywhere. The thoughts, feelings, and sensations run back and forth in our minds.

Do you run after each and every thought like a school worker trying to corral a group of unruly children?

Sometimes it is nice to just observe the thoughts as they run through our minds, let them go and shift our focus from all that is going on outside us to what is going on inside yourself.

Learning to shift your mind’s focus, attuned to one important idea at a time can reduce your stress and improve your creativity and productivity.

Give that shift of mind focus a try and see if it does not bring a whole lot of things into sharper focus.

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For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings, and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books

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