How to focus the mind
We live in an age of unprecedented distraction. When our mind is being so fiercely targeted, how can we focus it? Here are two time-tested means:
Feeding: The mind is energized by what it is fed, that is, by whatever stimuli it takes in. In one sense, the mind is constantly being fed something or the other, but most of the stimuli coming to it nowadays fill it with an impulsive or self-destructive energy. Feeding the mind therefore refers to exposing it to stimuli that will fill it with a reflective and constructive energy. We can feed our mind such food by earmarking daily time for studying wisdom-texts like the Bhagavad-gita, meditating on sacred sounds centered on potent mantras and taking in similar stimuli centered on the all-pure Divinity, Krishna. The Gita (06.34) refers to such feeding as abhyasa, regulated practice.
Fencing: Given the way today’s world is arranged, we can’t avoid all distracting stimuli. Still, we can and should fence the stimuli that are especially distracting for us. Such fencing can prevent those stimuli from reaching our mind and our mind from reaching them. Since most damaging stimuli nowadays come to us from our devices, we may need to limit what sites we visit and what sights we see. We may need to implement such limits not just by our own willpower, but also by external support such as accountability partners or screen regulating apps. The Gita (06.35) refers to various forms of fencing generically as vairagya, staying away from unhealthy stimuli.
With such feeding and fencing, if we strive to focus our mind on doable constructive tasks, we will succeed. And such success will not increase our confidence in our focusing capacity but also build a momentum which will increase that capacity.
To better focus the mind, feed it with healthy spiritual stimuli and fence it from unhealthy sensual stimuli.
Think it over:
- What does feeding the mind mean?
- What does fencing the mind mean?
- Plan two ways each in which you can feed and fence your mind?
06.35: Lord Shri Krishna said: O mighty-armed son of Kunti, it is undoubtedly very difficult to curb the restless mind, but it is possible by suitable practice and by detachment.