Concentration for Controlling (Obsessive) Thinking

Why practice concentration?

Quite simply, with practices starting at 4 minutes per day, this helps you to fully focus on the activity at hand, making you more productive and relaxed. It also helps to train your mind not to wander off down the dark path of unhelpful thoughts and obsessive thinking. These exercises are associated with other techniques such as relaxation – see Progressive Muscular Relaxation (PMR).

To start 

  1. All you need is somewhere comfortable to sit where you can be by yourself.
  2. Begin with the first exercise- repeat once a day until you’re able to do it confidently without any interruptions for at least three minutes.  After a few weeks of practice you can increase the time to 15 minutes.

Becoming fully comfortable and confident with these exercises can take anywhere from a few days to a few months so take your time and try not to push yourself too hard at first.  If you’re finding it difficult to concentrate, do not worry as this is very common. Everyone’s experiences vary and eventually you will be able to perform these exercises without becoming distracted. The key is to remain cool, calm and collected.

Learning Point:

It is important to be honest with yourself. Fully attend to the exercises and avoid thinking about anything else. If you do find yourself becoming distracted, stop the exercise and start again at least until the 10 or 15 minutes that you have set for yourself has lapsed

Once you’ve become confident in your accuracy, increase the time and when possible add a second session.For example, add an additional week of practice to each one.

The Concentration Challenges

Begin by doing the first task for 4 minutes. Once that is completed, move onto doing the rest of the exercises for 10 minutes, choosing a quiet place and time in which to do so. Only move onto the next exercise once you’ve completed the previous one. If you are disrupted or become distracted, start the exercise over again.

Exercise 1
Choose a paragraph from a book and then count the words in it. Stop, and then repeat. If you’ve counted the same number of words both times, repeat the counting process but this time with two paragraphs.  Once you’re confident in your ability to carry out this exercise, count the words of an entire page. Count mentally and only using your eyes.

Exercise 2
Count Backwords in your mind from 100 to 1 in 3’s. I.e. 100, 97, 94 to 1.

Exercise 3
Begin by picking a simple sound or inspiring word. Then repeat it silently in your mind for 5 minutes. Once you find it easy to concentrate on only doing this, repeat the exercise for up to 10 minutes without interruption.

Exercise 4
Select a fruit of your choice, then pick it up and hold it in your hands. Closely examine it- its smell, the way it feels and its taste. Concentrate on that taste without letting any other thoughts distract you.

Exercise 5
This is similar to exercise 4, however after 2 minutes of examining the fruit (as you did in exercise 4) put it down and close your eyes. Then, try to see, smell, taste and touch the fruit in your imagination. Try to imagine the fruit as clearly as possible. If the picture becomes distorted, open your eyes and look at the fruit for a little while, and then close your eyes and continue with the exercise.

Exercise 6
Pick up something small and simple such as a spoon or fork and concentrate on it. Observe the object from all angles without thinking of any words that relate to it, i.e. without verbalisation/saying the words.

Feeling Less Stressed and Anxious

Two Steps to Feel More In-Control and Less Stressed

Feeling stressed and anxious at times – you’re not alone. Feelings of stress and anxiousness are more common than not in our busy lives.
Stressed Anxiouis
Maintaining that crucial balance between work and life whilst at the same time trying to multitask what seems like an endless stream of jobs, can at times seem rather overpowering, and can lead to overwhelming emotions.

How do I cope? The answer might be simpler and less time consuming than you think:  Whenever these feelings and emotions present themselves try these two simple steps:

  • Two-Step Control
  1. Without changing your regular breathing, count your breaths from 1 up to 10 – 1 being breathing in and 2 being breathing out and so on.
  2. Keeping going, in your mind now concentrate on the sound of counting the numbers themselves. If you begin to notice your thoughts intruding – simply acknowledge them and let them go. Then refocus back on the counting.

Completing these two steps doesn’t need lots of time. You can have a calm and peaceful mind in as little as 1 minute, perhaps even on your way to the next busy part of your day. Alternatively, you can choose to take as much time as you need. That is the best part about this exercise- you are in total control of your time in this part of your day.

This article is first in the series, of less-stress, tips to a better life articles. I hope that you enjoyed it and found it useful.

Reflexions Counselling and Psychotherapy helps clients to live life fully. We use a range of creative and traditional techniques to help you to sort out key issues in your lives in an efficient and effective manner.

Ken McLeish is Principal Therapist at Reflexions Counselling and Therapy in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. Reflexions provides counselling and therapy for a range of issues including addictions. He can be contacted through the website: .

Information contained in this blog is not a substitute for face-to-face therapy. It can only every be one view of a situation and may not be applicable to your situation. You are advised to seek specialist support for treatment for addictions. The work here is a personal view which may change over time and should not be taken as representative of Reflexions Counselling and Psychotherapy.

Ken McLeish BA DMS MBA MSc MSc Cert Ed UKCP Reg
Reflexions Counselling and Psychotherapy
Alderman Fenwicks House, NE1 6SQ
0191 5805080