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Handy way to help improve powers of concentration

By Joseph Pond

Mindfulness sharpens one's concentration, and I'd like you to prove it to yourself. Take a moment to close your eyes and think of a room that you know very well. Not the room you're sitting in. As much as possible, try to place yourself actually in that room, remembering not just what it looks like, but also what the floor feels like under your feet, any possible sounds that one might hear, or any aromas which might be present. Do this for a moment or so, now, then open your eyes and continue reading.

Now, practice mindfulness for about two minutes. Set a timer on your phone or use an egg timer if you're old school. By 'practice mindfulness' I mean this: close your eyes and bring your full attention to your breath. To make it really easy, bring your attention to the feeling of air going through your nostrils. If your mind wanders from the task at hand, smile at the wonderful, zany nature of the fidgeting human mind, and gently bring your attention back to your breath.

Now, when the two-minute alarm rings, without opening your eyes, imagine yourself back in that same room from the first exercise. Again, make the experience as multi-sensory as possible, adding in sounds, textures and smells if appropriate. Spend just a few minutes in the room, noticing what's different. For most people, adding in even a short bout of mindfulness before doing the visualisation will have enhanced the experience, making it more vivid.

What is the benefit of doing this? Think about how many routine things we do in life which would be impossible to complete without the ability to concentrate: driving, conversing, walking, cooking, working, etc. Now consider how much more efficient you would be at all these tasks and more if you improved the simple skill of paying attention.

In addition, combining mindfulness with visualization really intensifies creativity. I've successfully shared these kinds of techniques to writers so that they can better 'enter' the world of their characters. The sky's the limit, and mindfulness creates the landscape which pools together the attention necessary to make it possible.

Joseph Pond is a clinical hypnotherapist, an acupuncturist, and a mindfulness instructor. He is co-founder of Hypnosis Explorers NI and conducts workshops in hypnosis with PowerTrance. Reach him at josephpond@yahoo.com or at https://www.facebook.com/ Belfast Hypnosis/?ref=hl/?ref=hl

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