A blog by Ian Hoge - Family Therapist at Visions Teen Mental Health and Wellness Centre.
In our society today, it's easy to assume that we are all directing our attention and energy towards a place of our own choosing. In reality, our attention and energy are being constantly chosen for us. We wake up in the morning, look at our cell phone and get pulled into all our messages and to-do lists. In our cars, our attention gets pulled towards an angry driver honking his horn at us. We get to work or school and have several fires to put out before we even sit at our desks. By the time we are done with our day we are so exhausted and overstimulated, we come home and just want to disconnect with a TV show or two before we do it all again the next day.
Ask yourself honestly, what percentage of your day do you allow the outside world to grab your attention and what percentage are you purposefully choosing?
For most of us, if we are being honest, it seems like our attention is being grabbed more and more each day, living in this ever-increasing fast paced digital world. It should not be a surprise that, in general, our collective mental health in modern society is deteriorating.
We were not designed to live having our attention and energy pulled and grabbed in so many directions. This leaves us in a state of stress and anxiety which has physiologically detrimental consequences to our mental health and well being.
Unfortunately, as technology increases exponentially, we can’t wait or expect to get relief from anyone else. The good news is that we can help ourselves. Mindfulness practice has been around since antiquity and can teach you to come back into mental balance. Like going to the gym for your body, practicing mindfulness strengthens your minds ability to deliberately pay attention to what YOU choose and want. The more you practice it the stronger you get and the easier it becomes to stay focused on what is important to you instead of being pulled in a hundred different directions.
So how do you get started? Well, you can use technology in a positive way by going online or downloading an app and listening to guided meditations. As your confidence and ability increases, you might join a local meditation group or even practice unassisted on your own. Eventually, over time, you will notice that you are able to bring your new muscles of attention into your daily life, decreasing your stress levels and increasing your happiness and sense of well being.