Topic 2: Sustaining attention

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Mindfulness gives you the ability to stay with what you decide you are going to do and not get caught up in other things, this is one of the most useful skills that regular mindfulness practice develops.

Why practice mindfulness?

The latest research on mindfulness meditation using colour MRI brain scans is rather surprising. If a researcher has a 100 brain scans they can tell to 95 percent accuracy who meditates. Considering that in meditation you do not use much thinking the results are surprising. The main conclusion of the research is that in meditation more of the brain is refreshed with oxygen and more of it is available for use and then it is used more efficiently.

Starting to practise mindfulness in a busy life can be challenging  so you need to have a strong motivation to start.

Doing the practice regularly brings more resolve, as you realise the effects of mindfulness for yourself and from your own experience.

Taking the initiative

 Over the first few weeks of doing this course I would like everyone to honestly reflect on  how you are doing with staying with something you have decided to do.

This is about having the ability to consistently keep the initiative and follow through on what you are doing once you have decided to do something.

If you decide to apply yourself to do one thing like paying attention to the sensations of the breath does your mind randomly shoot off after a few seconds, can you consistently stay with what you want to stay with? If your mind has wondered off on it’s own accord without you having decided to do that can you honestly say you are doing what you want?

So just reflect on this and the general  implications for your life

Sustaining a chosen course of action or direction

Doing meditation exercises like the ones we are doing on this course can help you see to what degree your attention hops about randomly without a clear sense of direction. This awareness of what actually happens when you put your mind to something gives you the possibility of assessment and choice in the moment

Determination and resolve to practise mindfulness

Together with the main intention to pay attention to something like the breath you can  also hold subsidiary intentions which support that main intention. These supportive intentions can be conscious and developed over time.

Some examples of qualities and skills which can be included in your intentions to stay with the breath.

This is about an attitude to keep going when there is a tendency to give up, either when things seem fine and dandy and complacency sets in, or if things are hard to do and you want something easier.

Gentle persistence: keeping going with the process of staying with your attention on the breath, gentleness rather than  hard forcing is the main quality.

Staying with a momentum: The intention to stay with your main focus is primary.

Methods for dealing with distraction

Being able to keep continuity on what you are doing without distraction is a result of mindfulness practice.

white lotus2Outline of topics