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May I Have Your Attention, Please?

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A woman sitting on her mat in a garden and meditating.

Your attention is precious. Maybe one of the most precious things in your life. It is the boss of your brain, some even claim. That is because attention shapes what you focus on, therefore, what you consume. Do you do it on a conscious level, though?

Even right now, as you read this, you might have the urge to scroll down or close the page. Think: Distractions are more than we can imagine in our modern lives, and they affect our attention span. Not only social media but also our constant exposure to other visuals such as billboards, commercials, TV, etc. is a part of our daily lives. Even traffic noise can zoom you out of your focus if your brain is getting distracted easily. Your brain jumps from one thought to another, one distraction to another.

Your attention is just like a flashlight. Your brain collects what it sees under that light (your attention). Now imagine that you are constantly changing the direction of this flashlight! It is damaging as much as it is annoying.

However, if you are willing to roll up your sleeves and get to work, you can become conscious about what you pay attention to. It is up to you to control the flashlight.

An invaluable tool to improve your attention span and concentration ability is practising yoga regularly. Why?
👉🏻We connect the mind with the body through our breaths (pranayama). Your breaths become your anchor to bring the attention back each and every time your mind runs away from the present. 
👉🏻We stay in yoga poses (asanas) by being consciously in present, which means we over and over challenge our brains to be now and see what is going on inside. Internal distractions such as thoughts are not criminalized. We learn to approach anything and everything with a conscious, non-judgemental mind
👉🏻We meditate and bring our mental focus and concentration to what is now. 

From another point of view, I think it is almost inevitable to hear this sentence during any yoga practice: Bring your attention to your breaths. We gather our consciousness to the present moment, to let the mind be one with the body as we sit or flow. o the attention and breaths work together to observe your presence!

And then, in time, we carry this consciousness level off the mat, to our lives. Instead of being alert all the time, we become aware of what our conscious minds focus on.

As Patanjali said 1600 years ago:

Consciousness settles as one radiates friendliness, compassion, delight, and equanimity toward all things, whether pleasant or painful, good or bad.

Or by pausing after breath flows in or out.
Or by steadily observing as new sensations materialize.
Or when experiencing thoughts that are luminous and free of sorrow.
Or by focusing on things that do not inspire attachment.”

– Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras I.33-I.38 (as translated by Chip Hartranft)