5 ways to tame your wandering mind and achieve better focus

When you’re daydreaming or staring absent-mindedly out the window what is your brain doing?

Well, it’s actually still very active and is strengthening the pathways we have built. However, sometimes these old pathways and patterns are bad memories, suffering, and old painful narratives.

Not to worry, using mindfulness tricks, we can snap out of that auto-pilot mode and snap back into the present moment.

There is actually research that shows that people who meditate spend more time in the present moment, their minds wander less often, and even at rest, their brains are centered in the present.

Using these tips you can stop your mind from wandering and work to re-wire the brain to be more present.

1) Scan your body.

Notice if there is any tension built up within your body. When your body is relaxed, it can lead to a relaxed mind. If you notice tension or stress, see if you can release it, soften it, or just breathe into it. You can also use stretching as a way to work out those tight muscles.

2) Technology detox.

Acknowledge your dependence to your phone, apps, laptop, TV, etc, and then find a time and place where you don’t use them. Some good places to practice this habit are: with your family or friends, social events, during dinner, while laying in bed before you fall asleep. You can also make small goals of not using these things during certain times of the day or in specific rooms of your house.

3) Don’t forget to be playful.

Wake up the kid inside with some unstructured creative activity. Play an instrument, draw, dance, or read something fun. Doing these things that bring you joy in the moment help you to stop the old narratives and give you a fresh look at what your life is right now.

4) Mindful Breathing

This is a simple exercise but the results can be very powerful. All you have to focus on your breathe and acknowledge when you breathe out and when you breathe in.

Mindfulness is all about being mindful of something. In this case, it’s simply focusing on your breathe.

When you do this, you won’t think anymore. You don’t have to make an effort to stop thinking. If you are thinking, just focus your attention back on your breathe. An in-breath may take three, four, five seconds, it depends. That’s time to be alive, time to enjoy your breath.

5) Concentration

This one comes from Buddha Master Thich Nhat Hanh:

“While you breathe in, you follow your in-breath from the beginning to the end. If your in-breath lasts three or four seconds, then your mindfulness also lasts three or four seconds. Breathing in, I follow my in-breath all the way through. Breathing out, I follow my out-breath all the way through. From the beginning of my out-breath to the end of my out-breath, my mind is always with it. Therefore, mindfulness becomes uninterrupted, and the quality of your concentration is improved.”

Check out Hack Spirit's eBook on How to Use Buddhist Teachings for a Mindful, Peaceful and Happy Life.

Here's what you'll learn:

• How and why to be mindful: There are many simple exercises you can do to bring a mindful attitude to quotidian activities such as eating breakfast, walking the dog, or sitting on the floor to stretch.

• How to meditate: Many beginning meditators have a lot of questions: How should I sit? How long should I meditate? What if it feels awkward or uncomfortable or my foot falls asleep? Am I doing it wrong? In this book, you’ll find simple steps and explanations to answer these questions and demystify meditation. (And no, you’re not doing it wrong).

• How to approach relationships: This section offers tips for interacting with friends and enemies alike and walks you through a loving kindness meditation.

• How to minimize harm: There is a lot of suffering in the world; it’s best for everyone if we try not to add to it. Here you’ll read about the idea of ahimsa (non-harming) and how you might apply it to your actions.

• How to let things go: As Buddhism teaches, excessive attachment (whether we’re clinging to something or actively resisting it) all too often leads to suffering. Practitioners of mindfulness meditation find peace in letting go and accepting things as they are in the moment.

Check it out here.