Your thoughts might be in the present, future, or past – or maybe they are in all three places at once.
When our mind becomes a jumbled mess of thoughts, our focus becomes weaker. It jumps around from thought to thought, from the past to the present to the future. If we want to focus on the present moment, we need to find ways to be less influenced by our thoughts.
We do have access to a powerful tool that can strengthen our focus and allow us to think less: our breath.
When we bring our attention to our breath and mindfully observe each inhale and exhale, our minds quiet down. Our focus is drawn to the present, our surroundings, and our body, and isn’t distracted by the buzzing thoughts of the day.
Thich Nhat Hanh put it perfectly:
“Mindful breathing helps us to be calm, relaxed, and peaceful.”
Of course, that all sounds wonderful, but it doesn’t mean it is easy. Focusing on your breath and truly remaining in the present moment requires concentration and dedication. The thoughts of the past and future won’t simply disappear—they will always be there. They will be standing by, ready to grab the attention of our focus and take us away from the present. What matters is how we deal with them.
When thoughts enter into our mind as we are focusing on our breath, we have a choice whether we want to give them any attention or label them in a certain way. We can practice recognizing they are there, and then challenge ourselves to let them go. We can redirect our concentration to our breath, and build up the strength of our focus so that it isn’t intercepted by our thoughts.
It is important to note that this doesn’t mean we should demonize thoughts of the past or future. Thich Nhat Hanh acknowledges that there is insight to be gained from the past, and that we should take responsibility for our future. The past and future simply shouldn’t fill our mind space to the point that we don’t exist in the present.
While we all know how to breathe, we aren’t all truly tapping into the full potential of our breath. If your thoughts are grabbing hold of your mind and taking you away from your yoga, meditation, or other mindfulness practice, try out this mindful breathing practice to help you harness the power of your breath.
We have some wonderful ways you can focus more and think less with our Summer Program, FOCUSED 2020.
Try a new class, meet with our highly trained experts for a quick assessment and suggestions to guide you toward achieving your goals. Get focused on the present and how that can shape your future! Click here for more information.