mindful practice and single-minded focus

mindful practice and single-minded focus

I'm reflecting on how at age 54 my consciousness is quite different than it was in the past. (54 as of jan. 2023).

I'm not trying to “toot my own horn.” But I can say that among other positive things relating to my consciousness, my memories are now more lasting, more vivid, and stronger than they were in my 20’s, 30’s, and 40's. I attribute this to having engaged in robust, mindful practices of meditation and yoga over the last four years: I dabbled in those things when I was younger, but because I wasn't consistent enough or knowledgeable enough my early efforts weren't as successful as they could have been.

Mindful practices are vitally important. Because my practices weren't sufficiently mindful when I was young, I'd drift away from the present moment and get into thoughts about problems, thoughts about the past, and worries about the future.

Anyone who watches children grow (as I’m doing these days as I watch my own daughters) can see how the mind gets easily distracted on its own. Our minds do develop and grow naturally, enabling us to gain strength, focus, and concentration ability. We learn how to do things well by watching our role models do them and by engaging in learning experiences. But thought patterns caused by occurrences such as childhood trauma can shake us free from being present and mindful when we do most things.

The thought patterns I speak of are such that they can make us hyper-fixate on what's going to happen next in our lives rather than on what’s happening in the moment. If such thinking is combined with our natural lack of attentiveness, it will cause us to develop lifelong habits that aren't in our best interest.

Coming to understand the connection between childhood trauma and negative behavior patterns is beneficial. But it's also necessary to engage in decisive actions geared toward changing those behavior patterns.

Sometimes multitasking can be beneficial. Oftentimes it's not, though. Right now I'm thinking of what happens when I go about the mundane action of brushing my teeth. It will take me three to four minutes, so I’ll put on a song that lasts for three or four minutes while I'm doing it. Meanwhile, my mind will drift to things that will need to be attended to later in the day. And I'll drift back and forth between thoughts of the near future and my focus on the present moment.

It bothers me that I still let this happen sometimes. It's bothersome because I know that I (and everyone else) can experience a lot of tranquility, relaxation, and comfort by focusing only on the task at hand at any given point in time.

I'm landing a passenger airplane as I'm writing this book. While typing, I'm gliding this 1,000,000 pound aircraft that has 540 passengers on it.

I'm driving a race car as I write this book. I'm correcting the errors in this paragraph as I’m coming around a hairpin turn at the speed of 176 miles per hour.

Just kidding. But think about how ridiculous it is to do one or more tasks in addition to a critical task that you're engaged in. And especially keep that in mind if you're engaged in the process of self-improvement. Live in the present moment, concentrating on whatever tasks will lead you toward healing, compassion, and enlightenment. And concentrate on each of them one at a time.

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