Think Less, Focus More

on July 12, 2019 by Evolutions
think less focus more

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.

mindful breathing

A Practice in Mindful Breathing

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.

  • Find a comfortable seated position, letting go of tension in your body. Sit upright, but not to the point that you feel physically strained. Relax your hands wherever is comfortable, and release your tongue from the roof of your mouth.
  • Focus on your body. Take note of areas of tension and try to release them. Feel the sensation of your legs on the ground, your hands on your thighs, or any other point of contact.
  • Move your focus from your body to your breath. Don’t feel the need to adjust it, simply note each natural inhale and exhale. To really focus inward, notice your breath in one area of your body. You may feel it coming in and out of your nostrils, hitting your upper lip, moving your abdomen, or expanding your chest.
  • If you notice your mind wandering, don’t be hard on yourself. Take note of where your focus is, and then bring it back to your breath. Stay breathing in this position for at least five minutes. To come out of the practice, bring your attention outwards to your physical body, and then gently come out of the seated position.

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.