Focused yet aware

June 30, 2017


Whether it’s work or extreme sports, the ability to stay focused yet aware is critical for productivity, safety, and enjoyment. As we zoomed down the Antisana volcano region, I made a conscious effort to soak in the moment while staying in control. It was only when I got distracted that I lost control and broke my arm…but that’s for a different story 😉

The aim of a focused meditation is to center the mind in the present activity while developing the capacity to remain vigilant to distractions or other sensory inputs. John Ratey (expert in neuropsychiatry) uses a hunter-gatherer analogy where the hunter has to focus on the prey while appreciating their surroundings and staying aware for new threats.

Each phase of this meditation shows increased neuro activity in different parts of the brain: (1) mind begins to wander (default-mode network); (2) you become aware of distraction (salience network); (3) reorient attention back (prefrontal cortex / parietal lobe); (4) sustaining focus (prefrontal cortex). Source: Scientific America Nov 2014



1) Get a meditation app such as Headspace or Insight Timer (my preference)

2) Find something to focus on (e.g., breathing exercise)

3) Notice the focus-distraction-reorient-focus cycle

4) Become aware of distractions and detach from it

5) Over time (weeks/months), notice your ability to realize when you’re not in focus and how you can detach from other inputs and distractions 👊💯



Photo credit: Jon @apertureadv_co

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