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Please Don’t Distract Me While I’m Being Distracted

I don’t know about you, but I find that nowadays I am more distracted than I used to be. As an example, since I typed the title of this blog, I’ve had a text and two phone calls. They had to do with things supposed to occur at my house today, scheduling, re-scheduling, modifying.

You catch my drift.

Throw in a weather disaster and a pandemic, and distraction, i.e., the inability to concentrate, takes on epic proportions. That’s why I read with interest this morning an article by Dan Zigmond entitled Learning How to Concentrate.

Zigmond tips his hat to meditation as a dear friend to anyone seeking to improve concentration in these turbulent times.

So what do we do about all these distractions? Meditation helps. People tend to think of the goal of meditation as clearing your mind and calming down, but that’s not the whole story. Meditation is really about what happens when we stop meditating. A big part of why we practice mindfulness in a quiet room away from distractions is so we can draw on that skill when we’re in a noisy office surrounded by chattering coworkers. Bringing our full attention to focus on our breath in meditation strengthens our ability to concentrate in daily life, in the same way that lifting weights in the gym strengthens our muscles and allows us to lift heavy things elsewhere.


Those of you who have meditated or considered meditation are familiar with the technique of breath-counting. The aim of breath-counting is not to clear your head of mental distractions, but rather to exercise and sharpen the mind’s ability to concentrate on a single thing for a sustained time. By working the concentration muscles, a person improves his ability to “hold that thought.” And as the capability to focus strengthens one develops a tool that helps in countless situations (pardon the pun).

So just try this. Sit down and start controlled breathing, focusing on ten breaths per minute. Count each inhalation and each exhalation and keep counting them until you lose count. When you lose count, start counting again at “one.” Do that for ten minutes.

I bet you will be amazed how much that process helps your mental acuity over the course of just a few days.

And have fun with it.

After all, you’re not going to miss anything you can’t live without for a few minutes on your phone, or on your social media feed.

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