Focus.

Casual discussion amongst spiritual friends.
adamposey
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Focus.

Postby adamposey » Sun Oct 11, 2009 3:50 pm

As a student of the digital world I'd like to ask you all for your advice on a matter that I feel hinders me in my intellectual and personal growth, and that is: focus. It's no secret that today's average technophile (such as myself) is bombarded by hundreds of notifications a day, the constant stress of being "available" at all times, and generally being pressured (or perhaps stressed) to accomplish tasks quickly this includes reading. Much of this behavior has become habitual to me after years and years of participation in chat rooms, web forums, etc.,

So, I'm asking your advice in curbing this behavior. I would like to be able to read a book calmly and peacefully without worrying so much about every notification I might receive, and I would like to increase my ability to focus on a single item that may be important but not as immediately rewarding to the pleasure centers of my brain (such as a sutta verse, etc.,). I want to create an environment wherein I can foster deep thought, responsible action, and intensive study of subjects that I find important.

Have any of you had to break yourself of similar habits, overcome procrastination, and generally break some very heavily engrained habits in order to foster growth? Either yes or no, I would love to hear your ideas and advice.

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Jechbi
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Re: Focus.

Postby Jechbi » Sun Oct 11, 2009 4:13 pm

You live in rural West Virginia. Take advantage of that. Go for a walk in the woods, and leave your cell phone (and your books) behind.

adamposey
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Re: Focus.

Postby adamposey » Sun Oct 11, 2009 4:24 pm

That's an excellent suggestion and I'll make every attempt to put it to good use. What about in other matters where my goal is to actually focus on the book, or what I'm studying, or to stay with a single thought and contemplate it? Any advice on that front?

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David N. Snyder
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Re: Focus.

Postby David N. Snyder » Sun Oct 11, 2009 4:44 pm

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Jechbi
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Re: Focus.

Postby Jechbi » Sun Oct 11, 2009 4:56 pm


adamposey
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Re: Focus.

Postby adamposey » Sun Oct 11, 2009 5:02 pm


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Ben
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Re: Focus.

Postby Ben » Sun Oct 11, 2009 8:48 pm

Hi Adam
Don't expect a radical transformation overnight. Its going to take consistent effort and application.
I would also recommend that you timetable certain activities for discrete periods of the day - perhaps use them as a reward at the end of the day. Breaking free from any addiction is going to be hard and unpleasent work but well worth it in the end. With regards to your other activities that you wish to focus on, whether it be reading a book, you will need to apply yourself at remaining centred on that activity. When you learn a form of samatha meditation, it will require you to keep your mind focused on a single object for longer and longer periods. In the same way, try to remain fixed on your book or other activity, calmly and quietly attentive, for as long as possible. And if you have to, turn your distracting devices off.
kind regards

Ben
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

(Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • •

e: [email protected]..

adamposey
Posts: 158
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Re: Focus.

Postby adamposey » Mon Oct 12, 2009 12:16 am


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Ben
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Re: Focus.

Postby Ben » Mon Oct 12, 2009 1:29 am

Adam, for what its worth, many of us here know what it is like to have manifold responsibilities. At one time I also had two jobs and attending university as a post-grad student as well as a young baby at home! While many of us don't have two part-time jobs on the go with university, you'll come to know when you are older that the complexity of daily life as a householder with or without family belies description.

So, there's a bit of collective wisdom here that you can draw from. It will take some time, but I think the best things you could do for yourself is to simplify where you can and to actively develop some of those qualities that I and others have alluded to via samatha meditation. Because, at the end of the day, its going to be your mental attitude at 'stressful' times or in dealing with the daily grind of having multiple balls suspended mid-air that will be your anchor. And don't worry about how long it takes. For most of us, this path is a lifelong endeavour - if not an endeavour that will span many lives.
I wish you the very best!
metta

Ben
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

(Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • •

e: [email protected]..

adamposey
Posts: 158
Joined: Sat Oct 10, 2009 8:16 pm

Re: Focus.

Postby adamposey » Mon Oct 12, 2009 3:51 am

Yes, and thank you for your support. I think I'm going to begin to dedicate myself to practicing samatha as well as vipassana as a daily occurrence. Perhaps I will take up my samatha practice for a time before beginning my studies for the night.

I also think it would behove me to take breaks away from the constant draws on my attention and occasionally settle into someplace quiet where I cannot be reached.

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nomad
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Re: Focus.

Postby nomad » Mon Oct 12, 2009 4:04 am

"I am because we are." -Xhosa Tribal Saying

adamposey
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Joined: Sat Oct 10, 2009 8:16 pm

Re: Focus.

Postby adamposey » Mon Oct 12, 2009 4:09 am

No, you're right the woods are not a good location for writing. But should I ever need to just absolve myself of distraction a lengthy stroll, or even a couple nights stay, in the woods may be quite good for me.

That said, one of my worst habits to break is going to be this idea that I can multi-task or research multiple things at once. I want to dedicate my full attention to one thing as much as I can, not to many things as often as I can. I recognize this is going to be a difficult transition for me.

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zavk
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Re: Focus.

Postby zavk » Mon Oct 12, 2009 5:03 am

Hi Adam

Those suggestions about going for walks and finding the right environment are great. You could also try developing an exercise routine, if you don't already have one. Exercise really helps to maintain energy levels and focus.

One more suggestion: You might want to work out what times of the day feels most conducive for studying and contemplative. For some people, it is early in morning, for others it is around twilight. I don't know many people who work well in the afternoon. For me, I'm more contemplative early in the morning and around twilight when the sun begins to set. I use these times either for Buddhist meditation or general reading/studying. I feel less distracted during these times.... My afternoons are usually spent juggling the many tasks and responsibilities of work and home.

Or to put it in cliched terms, try to identify the 'flow' and go with it....
With metta,
zavk


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