Wednesday, June 27, 2018

The importance of concentration: a call for a disciplined mind

Not so long ago, I was walking to my office with my son when a girl coming from the opposite direction nearly bumped into us. She was walking with her eyes glued to her mobile-phone screen. Similarly, my wife was once walking down the staircase of my office with 50 percent of her attention on the mobile phone in her hand when she missed a step and collapsed down. She nearly broke her leg. All such things happen when we work with divided attention. The 21st-century world has become so busy that we do not seem to have time to do one thing at a time. There are so many things that constantly distract us from our routine life and now we seem to have lost our ability to concentrate fully on what we are doing.

Consciously or unconsciously, we often find ourselves doing multiple jobs at a time, thereby compromising on the quality of work we do. If you observe carefully, you will realize how we take things for granted. We often cross roads or walk on the streets with half of our attention on the mobile phones, either listening to music, talking/chatting with people or checking updates on social media. Such a behavior puts you in a grave danger. If a speeding car gets too close, you will not be able to make rational decision on time to escape to safety. Even at home, we do not even seem to have time to eat mindfully. We eat our meals with our eyes fixed on the television or chatting with friends on social media. Sometimes we do not even realize when we have finished eating our food. This is the kind of world we are living in today. We have become so distracted that we have significantly lost our ability to concentrate on what we are doing.

Charles Newton in his book ‘The Secrets of Success’ has said that the ability to concentrate is an integral part of a disciplined and sound mind. The inability to concentrate on things you do will result in incompetence and great loss of time. David Lloyd George, the Prime Minister of United Kingdom from 1916-1922 was once asked “To what do you attribute your greatness?” It seems he laconically answered “When I brush my hair, I think of nothing else but brushing my hair”. This kind of mind is essential for achieving success in life. When we do our job, we have to be able to invest our entire energy into it so that we can yield quality results at the end of the day. We must avoid doing multiple things at a time because we won’t be able to pay equal attention to what we are doing. As a result, it will only lead to lower satisfaction and waste of time for everybody concerned.

The modern world has almost everything to offer us and we try to catch them all at a time. But in reality, this ‘grasshopper mind’ does not reach us anywhere. The spiritual masters and great leaders across the globe have already realized that doing things one at a time will be the quickest way to success because you would be able to do your job with diligence and full concentration. It is perhaps because of this realization that various mind training strategies such as yoga, meditations and other forms of mindfulness practices are gaining momentum in the world. The main objective of mindfulness practices is to help us control our mind so that we can have the ability to concentrate better. If we manage to be always mindful of what we are doing in our daily life, we can achieve greater happiness and success. Whatever it is, we must always try to do things one at a time to avoid unnecessary distractions and dilutions.

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