How can meditation help me focus?
We asked WITHIN teacher Devon Pipars what the relationship is between focus, and meditation. Here’s what she told us.
Q: The second most popular reason students start taking classes with us at WITHIN (after stress management) is cultivating focus. Why do you think there are so many people looking for better focus?
A: In a world where everything is instantly digitally available to us, we tend to be constantly engaged. We are continually plugged in to emails, social media, our cell phones.
Without practice holding our attention on one thing, it will tend to wander and be easily distracted.
We see this tendency in small children: they switch from topic to topic, allowing their moods to follow along.
This inability to hold focus manifests as instability, meaning that if we are at the mercy of our flitting attention, which is constantly pulling us in different directions, then our sense of well-being will have no anchor.
How does meditation help?
Meditation is the practice of holding a gentle focus - a focus free of tension, more akin to interest. But instead of focusing on any particular thing, we are maintaining an interest in the formless space of consciousness, and all of its ever-changing contents. So, we begin to neutrally observe all thoughts, feelings, sensations, perceptions.
What happens when we start observing our experience in that way?
In the beginning, we notice how difficult it is not to investigate each of these as it arises, because we’ve habituated to constant thinking. But the longer we practice staying with the Knower of the perception, instead of the stimuli itself, we begin to realize we are that ever-present witness.
How does that recognition of ourselves as the witness provide the anchor we’re missing?
Recognizing this unchanging aspect of identity allows us not to run after each thought, but to stay seated in the power of our awareness. And the nature of that awareness is inherently easy, blissful, and unaffected.
When we recognize this as our own originality, as our basis, we become anchored in that sense of well-being and our focus becomes steady and sustained without strain.
We discover that focus is not effort, but actually the same as being fully present in the moment.
Devon teaches our afternoon & evening classes on Tuesdays, and midday on Wednesdays. She has a passion for helping students deepen their practice, whether you're just starting out or have years of experience. Join her for a class this week, or take her #MindfulStart Course! Or, get a taste of her guidance virtually through WITHIN's channel on the Aura Health app.