Chris Bailey in his appearance on The Art of Manliness:
The more distracted you are, the less you’re able to delve deep into what’s actually complex on a daily basis. One proven way of doing that is meditation. Meditation is a brain training technique where you train your ability to give focus to what’s in front of you in the present moment as opposed to wherever your attention wants to go, to whatever’s novel, pleasurable or threatening. It totally is possible to not only make your attention bigger and not only be able to take on things that are more complex, but it’s possible that your attention can almost wither over time. It decreases as your energy levels falter, for example. It decreases the more distracted you are, with your distractibility level.
I read Hyperfocus (full notes to come) after listening to this podcast episode. Here’s something from the book about directing your attention:
Directing your attention toward the most important object of your choosing—and then sustaining that attention—is the most consequential decision we will make throughout the day. We are what we pay attention to.
I’ve been meditating more since reading Hyperfocus. I’ve meditated on and off and always want to meditate more. This book gave me whatever motivation I needed to start it up again. Actually it was this book along with an episode of Joe Rogan’s podcast (#1161 – Jerrod Carmichael & Jamar Neighbors) where Jamar talks about his meditation practice. I listened to both of these on a flight to Seattle and meditated a bit on the flight.
Directing your attention is worth practicing. Meditation lets you continually practice it for a set amount of time.
Here comes a workout analogy. For directing your attention, meditation can be like a cardio workout. You’re constantly moving and working out the entire time. You continue to notice your attention wandering and directing it back to your breathing (or other things depending on what type of meditation).
Then there’s a concept called greasing the groove. Often you’ll hear about it for increasing the number of pull-ups you can do. You do pull-ups throughout the day. Not to failure. It should feel easy. Every hour do a few pull ups. The reps will add up.
Similarly, this is valuable for practicing directing your attention. Chris Bailey recommends having an hourly chime for this. Every hour, reflect on what you did in the past hour and what you’re currently doing. It’s a time to refocus.
I’ve been using the pomodoro technique in the past week. It must be the 17th time that I’ve tried it in my life but it’s been pretty effective this time around. One difference is that I’ve been really respecting the 25-minute timer. Meaning that I’ll end when time ends. In the past I would work through it—“I’m focused, why stop now?” Well, because if you stick it through to an hour then you’ll be completely drained. (Think: NBA Live turbo button.)
Each pomodoro is a rep in directing your attention. You’re greasing the groove. Combining that with meditation has been really effective.