How to Focus Mind

How to Focus your Mind and Thoughts

Your Focus Determines Your Reality. You are where you are in life based on what you have been thinking till now. The state of our attention determines the state of our lives. It means that whatever you chooses to focus on will ultimately become your reality.

 Our ancient scriptures have unequivocally put this quality of focus on the highest pedestal. If you are pursuing a spiritual path, focus alone can lead you to Samadhi or ultimate self-realization. For those who are pursuing material goals and wish to transform their dreams into reality, focus is single most potent tool which can lead them to achievement of their goals.

But what is the big deal in focusing our mind on our goals. Why are we not able to focus as much as we may wish to? Its simple. We have neither been taught nor learnt to focus.

We get good at anything we practice. Take the case of the best athlete in the world or the best painter or the best musician, they are where they are because of their practice.

For example if you wanted to be a good singer or a good piano player and you practiced 6 hours a day for continuously 30 days, do you agree you would be a better singer or a better piano player after 30 days. What if instead of 6 hrs you practiced 10 hrs daily? You see how much better you would be after 1 month.

Same is true with training to directing your focus. If we remove 7-8 hours of our sleep time daily, what are we doing for the remaining 16 hrs? We are practicing distraction. So that’s why it makes most of us so excellent in getting distracted.

 Throughout the day, how frequently do you choose what to focus on? How much of your time do you spend deliberately and with intention to focus on things that would take you closer to your goals in life? How much time you deliberately spend in planning what you want to do and when you’ll do it?

Many of us would not be able to fare well with our answers.

We lead busy lives, and we can always blame the environments in which we live and work. We have surrounded ourselves within a world of alerts, notifications and beeps, which keep popping up to grab our attention now and then. We can always blame these continuous streams of interruptions that prevents us from focusing onto any one activity for long.

How often we find ourselves on a loop around the same 3 or 4 smartphone apps, checking for updates again and again or checking how many more likes my picture of Facebook has got in last 10 minutes.

 I am sure many of us are aware of our addictions.

But the question is if we all know this then why are we unable to control our mind from getting attracted to these distractions and rather devote more time focusing on our goals?

 One of my young friends asked me How to train my mind to focus on my studies. He said I am unable to control my mind from engaging in my social media chats. I want to devote more time for my study but I find myself helpless.

I am sure most of us are in a similar state of environment. Most of us want to achieve something worthwhile in life, but find ourselves helpless in the face of powerful distractions.

If we closely look at this common question there are few important pointers. Let me tell you, the answer to this question. And trust me, if you can implement it, your life is never going to be the same again.

The answer to this question has three dimensions:

  1. There are distractions around us.
  2. Our mind always finds a valid reason to get attached to these distractions.
  3. And most importantly we feel helpless to control our mind.

Now the main problem is not that there are distractions around us. The problem that our mind wants to wander behind these distractions is also not so big. The biggest problem is our feeling of helplessness in controlling our mind.

Our brain is hardwired to treat the symptoms rather than the cause. If someone has a high fever, we always want to get a medicine to bring the temperature down. High temperature is just a symptom of some deeper problem within. But we often focus our attention on treating the symptoms. Someone having a high blood pressure, wants to take a pill to bring his blood pressure under control. He rarely tries to correct the causes which caused high blood pressure.

Similarly, our mind getting distracted is just a symptom. The cause is something else.

The biggest problem is our feeling of helplessness to control our mind. This helplessness which is seated deep into our consciousness is a result of our ignorance about the nature of our true selves.

Maharishi Patanjali calls this as Avidya.
अविद्याअस्मितारागद्वेषाभिनिवेशः क्लेशाः

When our consciousness is rooted in avidya we find ourselves as a distinct identity separate from everything else and find ourselves helpless in the face of situations and circumstances in life. And since we feel helpless, we continue to get tossed on the waves of life and we allow the current of life to take us wherever it wants. This is the cause of all sufferings in life.

The moment we realize that we are the sparks of one consciousness; the viel of Avidya is removed. We then realize that we are the creators of our own destiny. We then realize that we are not this body, the body belongs to us. We then realize we are also not our mind, the mind belongs to us. When we know we are the controllers of our ship, we regain the power to direct our mind and body by consciously choosing the direction we want to take.

This is the single most important realization which can transform us from being helpless victims into the controllers of our life.

So let us re-arrange the three dimensions in correct order :

  1. Most Important – We feel helpless to control our mind.
  2. Our mind always finds a valid reason to get attached to these distractions.
  3. There are distractions around us.

So once we have an awareness of our true selves, we have tackled the first dimension. We will no longer be a helpless victim now but have the power to direct our mind wherever we want to focus on. People with a focused mind are more likely to succeed than those with a cluttered mind

For tackling the 2nd and 3r dimensions, Maharishi Patanjali says:
अभ्यासवैराग्याभ्यां तन्निरोधः॥१२॥

Mastery of the activities of the mind is cultivated through practice (abhyasa) and detachment (vairagyam).This is the way you can achieve mental calmness. And when your mind is calm, you can focus on activities that will reach you closer to your goals.

Infact the crux of all Yoga itself is the ability to choose, focus and sustain


Yoga is the ability to direct the mind exclusively towards an object and sustain that focus in that direction without distractions.

Here Yoga is not meant as Yogasanas alone. The word Yoga here refers to the Yoga philosophy.

This sutra offers the first solution to cultivate that one-pointed mind. Abhyasa and detachment are two sides of the same coin.

So the solution is to practice focusing the mind on one activity or one thing. And if the mind wanders towards any distractions, just bring it back again to the one activity.

We can better understand this principle if we deconstruct what is mind made up of. What we call as mind and understand as one entity, it infact comprises of 4 components as per our ancient scriptures: Chitta, Manas, Buddhi and Ahamkara. All these 4 components make up what we understand as mind.

Now it will be easy to understand. Consider Manas or mind as a big dark room containing all our past experiences, memories, perceptions etc. Chitta is akin to our awareness or a torch light. In whichever direction of the room we choose to focus on we can throw the torch light into that direction.

So basically its not the mind problem, but its in which direction we wish to focus our awareness that matters. And wherever awareness goes, energy flows. It’s a choice we all have, to maintain our awareness on whatever aspect of our life we wish.

So the key is to be conscious of where you wish to focus your awareness upon. And if it wanders, all you have to do is gently keep bringing it back. This is the practice or Abhyasa you have to continuously be engaged in.

And regarding the 3rd dimension that there are distractions which keep pulling our awareness, the solution is to practice Non-attachment with those distractions.

Non-attachment does not mean forcing the mind away from distractions, but non-attachment arises out of the discrimination or Viveka about the futility of those distractions in your life. When your Buddhi can discriminate that these distractions are non-essential in your life, you will no longer feel any desire or attachment to such distractions.

It means even if you are immersed in a sea of distractions, you will have the power to choose where to focus your attention and keep all distractions at bay. This is the true essence of Abhyasa and Vairagya.

Yoga is a science. If you practice diligently, you’ll get the results. There is no doubt about it. We develop into a better version of ourselves when we become the personification of devotion, consistency and love.

Dedicated practice generates a flow of mental energy and if we persist in promoting that flow, we will experience Divine grace helping us in realizing our worthy goals.

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