I’m heartened to see more and more emphasis on mental training. More coaches see its importance and find ways to give their clients access to it. Admitting you need to do some mental training is no longer something to be ashamed of. Rather, it’s a courageous acknowledgement that leads to healing.
A friend recommended a TED Talk to me given by researcher Amishi Jha. In How to tame your wandering mind, Amishi says: “Wherever attention goes the rest of the brain follows.” I like that. Another way of saying it is “what you focus on expands.” If you focus on how you hate life, then that’s what will expand. Conversely, if you focus on being grateful for your life, then that’s what will expand. What kind of life do you want to have? Focus!
Check out these questions and points from Amishi.
- Attention is your brain’s boss.
- Does attention guide the brain effectively?
- To answer this question, we need to know:
- How does attention control our perception?
- Why does attention fail us, leaving us feeling distracted?
- Can we do anything about this distraction; can we train the brain to pay attention better?
- Attention amplifies what you attend to.
- Stress and mind-wandering distracts attention.
- Why does the mind wander? Because the mind has the ability to think about the past and future. Mind-wandering is about attention going to the past and future without our awareness.
- Mindfulness practices improve awareness.
I’ve heard Jon Kabat-Zinn, the founder of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, define mindfulness as: “Paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally, as if your life depended on it…because it does.” I like that last part because having quality lives really does depend on paying attention to them.
Practice Tip: Amishi’s calls to action
Pay attention to your attention!
- So, if attention is the brain’s boss, then who is this that is “paying attention to your attention?” It’s the “I”, the observer or witness to all your experiences. Mindfulness begins with this observer. Find it.
Incorporate mindfulness training into your daily routine.
- If you don’t have a daily routine of mindfulness practice, then I highly recommend you begin one. Commit to only 10 minutes in the morning. Over time, you’ll train your attention to work for you. Remember, attention is your brain’s boss and the observer is your attention’s boss.