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.

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