The immense amount of potential within all of us would be a waste if we lacked the ability to focus. No matter how creative, intelligent, genius or productive you are, you need to be able to attain jedi-like concentration in order to manifest your inner genius and achieve success in everything you do.
A World Full of Distractions
This skill is something that’s being robbed from us daily. Unconscious to us, the environment is conditioning us to become less focused. Technology, ads here and there, social media, big city metropolises, traffic – we’re surrounded by a jungle of distractions.
The biggest problem with this is that we’re teaching our mind to be all over the place, without ever dedicating our full attention to one thing. As you’re reading this, chances are you’re doing something else at the same time, or at least you’re surrounded by distractions. You’re listening to music, chatting with friends on social media, having several tabs open, eating – whatever it is.
Now what’s wrong with that?
In essence, getting distracted is also preventing you from experiencing the present moment – the here and now. There’s no real connection with your consciousness and the object of your attention. That’s fine when reading articles online, as it’s actually more productive to multi-task while surfing the web. However, that habit can stick to anything else you do as well.
Can You Spend a Minute in Silence?
Our monkey mind is hardwired to distract us. Its behavior is based on emotions and social validation. That’s why you get the feeling of resistance when trying to concentrate. The chimp inside your head is throwing mental obstacles on your path and seeking ways of being in the center of attention. “Look at me! Just look at how great I am. I can stand on my head. Give ME your attention. ME, I want you to look at ME!”
I challenge you to concentrate solely on reading the rest of this article.
Actually go through the lines, as if your life depended on it. Read it like a book. It’s your initiation as a jedi apprentice. Can you do it? Or have you already drifted off?
Why can’t the mind stand silence? Because you’ll become still and alone with your thoughts. It forces you to delve into the innermost caves of your psyche and come face to face with the unconscious. Hidden beneath the analytical mind, the subconscious depths can hide some psychological traumas, anxieties or fears, which will begin to rise to the surface.
A Story About Concentration
In fact, it’s the story of Luke Skywalker in general. He became a Jedi Knight thanks to his ability to repeatedly concentrate.
At first, he had to lay aside his ego and undergo through apprenticeship with Obi-Wan Kenobi. With no previous experience, he practices his lightsaber skills on training droids but doesn’t succeed at all. Obi-Wan then puts a helmet on his head that blocks his vision. Luke tries again and does extremely well.
When Luke meets Yoda, he has to go through the same rigorous training. It’s tough but because of perseverance, he pushes through and can actually hold a one-arm handstand with the grandmaster sitting on the soles of his feet, whilst levitating a formation of rocks. Now that’s skill.
To destroy the Death Star, Luke literally entered a tunnel of intense concentration. The voice of Obi-Wan Kenobi inside his head tells him to trust the Force and he gets access to his true power. All doubt and limiting beliefs get cast aside, as he flew inside the shaft and takes the final shot.
In the final movie, he defeats Darth Vader in combat and is tempted by the Emperor to join the Dark Side. However, like the hero he truly is, he maintains focus on what truly matters to him and doesn’t get sidetracked.
The story of Luke Skywalker is a hero’s journey towards achieving jedi-like concentration in everything he did and thus becoming the savior of the Galaxy.
What Separates the Jedi From the Crowd
What is the secret behind any type of success? It’s the ability to FOCUS. You need to know what you need to do in order to accomplish what you want and then have enough attention to do it.
Extraordinary results require more than simply doing it. To really manifest your creative genius and achieve incredible things in whatever you’re doing, you have to develop the skill of narrowing down your attention.
However, as you attain jedi-like concentration, your consciousness increases because of you controlling your field of awareness. You can deliberately direct wherein your focus lies. In a way, it’s turning yourself into an ultimate warrior with laser sight who’s capable of dissolving the thick clouds of distractions and seeing behind the veil.
The challenge of living in a world full of distractions is that there are too many shiny objects glittering in our field of awareness.
Oh, sorry about that, I was just checking my Facebook messages.
Are you kidding me? Of course I wasn’t, I’m a jedi warrior and don’t set myself up for failure for nothing.
What separates the jedi from the rest is:
- The ability to feel in control of the environment both internal and external. This means you’re able to remain calm and focused no matter the situation without getting anxious.
- Dedication and commitment on solely one task at a time, which is achieved through intense concentration and laser-like focus.
- Persistence and perseverance to voluntarily guide one’s wondering mind over and over again.
- Strengthened willpower and psychic energy, that gives the ability to focus on one thing for longer periods of time.
As a result, your performance will skyrocket, because you can become immersed by the task only during deep intense work.
How to Attain Jedi-Like Concentration
Based on that, I’m going to now outline the parts for improving your concentration to jedi-master levels. We need to cultivate the 4 components or skills listed above.
Feel in Control of Your Environment
Our sensory perceptions are designed to recognize different stimuli in our field of awareness. Dozens of smells, sights and sounds are constantly bombarding us and lighting up millions of neurons in our brain. Every shiny object in the corner of our eye is of interest for the subconscious mind.
These things are distractions that make us lose our concentration. Before you’re trying to focus on something, then you need to be a strategic fu*ka and prepare your environment. A jedi won’t voluntarily set himself up for failure and will do as much as possible in advance.
If there’s the possibility of a random stimulus to pop up, then you’re already unconsciously pre-empting it to happen, thus causing slight arousal and anxiety. You’re waiting for that next #bling! and the message you’ll get. If you know that the chances of that occurring have been eliminated or at least reduced to a bare minimum, then you can lower your guard down and can focus solely on the task.
The key is in FEELING like you’re in control. You can even remain completely relaxed and calm in the subway. Likewise, being alone in a quiet room doesn’t guarantee confidence or safety, as some people are afraid of confronting their own thoughts.
It’s all based on how you’ve prepared your external surroundings and how well you can manage your internal environment. Anxious mind will create anxious thoughts.
How to Control Your Environment
- Turn off social media notifications and other pop-ups. Plug off the Internet, unless you really need it for your work.
- Mute your cell phone or switch it to airplane mode. In fact, put it out of sight for the time being so you wouldn’t be tempted to play with it.
- Eliminate other possible distractions, such as the TV, radio, pencils, toys, food. Whatever your weakness might be, you know it – get rid of them.
- Lose the possibility of other people disturb you. Don’t eliminate them with your laser-sight but simply tell them to not approach you for the given time period. Friends, family, pets, the mailman, the waitress whoever it might be.
- Switch to Jedi-Sage Mode. This means you have to become centered and lower your level of arousal. For you to focus you need to be in a semi-meditative state. Completely relaxed but fully alert and poised for immediate action.
However, it’s been shown that some background noise can actually boost your brain’s productivity[i]. Small chatter and voices, like the ambient environment of a coffee shop, is perfect for heightened concentration and creativity. Looking out of the window and seeing other people can be beneficial in some instances. It’s just that there’s a very narrow line but a deep chasm between focus and drifting. Herein lies the notion of feeling in control.
Of course, you can’t take this too far and remain focused like a zen-master when it gets too loud. The dose of about 70 decibels seems to be right. You can use websites like https://www.noisli.com/ to play some background noise.
Dedication and Commitment
Next, the jedi-warrior also knows that the most productive way of doing any task is to dedicate one’s full attention to it. There needs to be nothing else in your field of conscious awareness but you, the Force and your assignment, whatever it may be. Know the mission – destroy the Death Star – and enter into tunnel vision until it’s done.
Our attention span and mental energy is finite. Unconscious to us, the brain is constantly processing every bit of information we perceive and is also analyzing it in the depths of our neural software.
The amount of focus we can dedicate to one thing is limited to how many objects we have to concentrate on. Do you want to go in 50-50 on several tasks and get mediocre results, or do you prefer going 100% on one goal and achieve one single extraordinary outcome in that? You already know which one is acceptable for a jedi-knight.
By the same token, our brain also operates as a massive database. Every thought, idea, responsibility, work assignment, plan and intention is a bit of data that gets deposited inside the depths of our mind. Even though we’re not consciously thinking about them, unconsciously we’re still processing them. That’s why to-do lists are causing so much anxiety. You put them into your mental archive where they will remain until you’ve completed the task. They will stay in the back of your head and demand a lot of computational space. Your monkey mind will keep reminding you that you still have stuff to do.
Therefore, you mustn’t spread your psychic energy too thin by juggling many tasks all at once. This applies to both doing a single assignment as well as the way you manage your overall mental headspace. The less stuff you have inside your head and in your life, the more attention you can bring to them.
Managing Your Mental Energy
- Dedicate yourself to the ONE thing. This applies to your overall life. What are your greatest talents you can offer to the world? Commit primarily to doing that. This is the only way you’re going to achieve extraordinary results.
- Concentrate on only one task at a time. Enough said.
- Have only a handful of commitments and projects at a time. Don’t let your mental database become cluttered by several high demanding assignments. Open up your task manager and end those processes that you’re not planning to complete. Stick to just a few bigger goals of your life.
- Finish a task before you pick a new one. Similarly, don’t leave several windows open and never have unfinished business. Complete the assignment before you begin a new one. It will remain inside the back of your mind and begins to clutter your computational RAM. Your subconscious mind will still have to work on it, unless you’ve discarded it as finished.
- Empty your mental recycle bin. There’s still going to be some junk left. That’s natural, as we won’t be able to bring all of our ideas into fruition. The key is in recognizing the best ones and committing to just a few of them. Everything else has to be discarded and forgot about.
- Practice via negative. It’s the method of first subtracting the downside before adding in more stuff. You remove bad habits, activities, objects, distractions and people who don’t serve you. Stop eating unhealthy food before you start taking supplements.
Like Bruce Lee, a famous jedi-master said: “It’s not the daily increase but daily decrease. Hack away at the unessential.”
The Multi-Tasking Myth
A word on multi-tasking. The fact of the matter is that it decreases your productivity by a great margin and completely neglects creativity. Every time you swap between tasks, you’re preventing yourself from becoming fully immersed by it.
It’s actually impossible to multi-task. You’re simply jumping back and forth between the tasks. Once you get zapped out of the one thing, you have to reclaim your concentration.
However, there’s still some merit to multi-tasking. Of course, you shouldn’t use it when doing your one thing, as it decreases the quality of your results, but you can effectively do it when working on several less demanding tasks. When you’re not trying to achieve a specific outcome or don’t require that much focus.
Tasks that are not okay to multi-task:
- Algorithmic tasks – mathematics, programming, engineering, physics etc.
- Being creative in general – writing, playing music, painting, design etc.
- Intense thinking – brainstorming, philosophizing, contemplating, reading etc.
Tasks that are okay to multi-task:
- Mixed complexity and simplicity – match high cognitive activities (writing, thinking, judgement) with something you can do on autopilot (listen to audiobooks while walking, make a cup of coffee while thinking about your creative project).
You would be better off with blazing through monotonous tasks quickly by focusing on them completely, rather than multi-tasking and wasting precious time. Go hard in with intense concentration and you will finish them faster.
Persistence and Perseverance
After having taken full control of your environment and choosing to commit to just one thing, you have to actually cultivate the persistence and perseverance to complete the task.
Despite our greatest efforts, the mind still tends to wonder from time to time. That’s normal and fine. A jedi knows this and rather than trying to fight it, he accepts it and uses it as a tool to control his psychic energy.
The key to extraordinary results lies in intense concentration on the task and thus becoming immersed by it. It’s the merging of your awareness with the object of your focus, which is a state of consciousness called FLOW, or the zone. The writer’s flow, runner’s high and zen-focus are a few examples of this, including the laser-sight of a jedi.
All of the previous steps are already prerequisites to flow. However, whenever you’re actually doing the task, you still have to follow a few guidelines.
How to Enter FLOW
- Just take the first step. It’s the hardest part of any journey but it needs to be taken. You have to simply take the plunge and start the task. Begin working with it and don’t expect great results right away. Warm-up your mental powers and momentum will carry you through.
- Become actively engaged with it. Immerse yourself solely to the task at hand. Ignore the distractions and direct all of your psychic energy to the one thing. Let your mind be filled by it completely. There shouldn’t be nothing else on your mind. Forget about the outside world – there’s just you and the object of your focus.
- Attain an insider’s perspective. Self-reflection cancels flow immediately. Questions like “What am I doing? How am I doing?” are contradictory and make you anxious. Don’t evaluate or try to judge your results during the process. Simply let it out there and discard your analytical mind for the time being.
- Explore and take risks. Flow is the record breaking state but it happens only when we’re challenged by the activity just enough. Too much difficulty will cause anxiety, while too easy prevents us from becoming immersed. Know your skill-level but at the same time try to improve upon your abilities slightly.
The thing with flow is that we can never predict it. It just happens. All we can do is prepare our environment and condition our mind in advance to promote it.
As jedi-warriors, the Force is on our side, but we can’t force flow. It’s the universal law of non-attachment. Whenever you’re trying to manically cling onto something, it will turn brittle. So it is with relationships, finance, exercising, the ego – everything. We need to go hard and always try our best, but at the same time achieve complete freedom from the outcome and do it just to enjoy the journey.
How to Reclaim Your Attention
It’s going to happen. You’re going to get sidetracked every once in a while, which is completely fine and actually good. Our subconscious mind needs short periods of time to recover and analyze what we’re doing. Creativity happens in between the biggest ups and downs of intense concentration.
The key to not losing focus entirely is to simply notice that when you’re beginning to drift, accept it and then guide your attention back to the task.
In the movie, The Men Who Stare at Goats, one of the jedi-warriors, Lyn uses a mental technique to burst clouds in the sky with his concentrated sight. However, he makes the error of doing it while driving and crashes into a rock. Lesson to be learned – don’t multitask.
Nevertheless, think of your mind as something similar. You’re concentrating on a task and there are clouds of distractions that make you get sidetracked. Acknowledge them and use your laser-sight to fade them away. Don’t get anxious about them but simply let them rise and then make them vanish.
Another trick is to make the object of your concentration the most interesting thing in your field of awareness. If the activity you’re doing is enjoyable just for its own sake, then you’ll eventually enter flow because of being intrinsically motivated to do it.
You can make being immersed easier and more enjoyable with positive affirmations and visualizations during the task. It all depends on how you perceive the situation and what conversations you have in your head. If you see the task as something dreadful, then you’ll unconsciously create mental hindrances. Associate it with success, happiness and something you love doing, and you’ll become more effective at it.
Strengthened Willpower and Psychic Energy
In the original Star Wars, Luke is just beginning to practice using the Force on board the Millenium Falcon. He’s fighting a training droid and gets shot in the leg. Han Solo mocks him and says that it’s all nonsense and that there’s no mystical energy field to be found. Obi-Wan tells Luke to try again, but this time with a helmet that blocks his vision. Now, Luke concentrates intensely and blocks all of the lasers by relying solely on his intuition.
So it is with us as well. To attain jedi-like concentration we have to also deliberately practice it. Unconditioned minds will still get weary. It’s only the cultivated ability to focus that will persist through the clouds of distraction.
Strengthened willpower and increased psychic energy are the result of pure training. This last part is about using different activities solely for the purpose of sharpening our focus. We have to make concentration a habit. As you do anything, so will you do everything.
Daily Exercises to Increase Concentration
- Jedi Meditation. This is probably the most fundamental tools in the psychic skill-set of a jedi-warrior. It’s not necessarily a spiritual practice but a mental technique that conditions us to control our monkey mind. Bringing your full attention to the ins and outs of your breath will make you present, thus solely focused on the here and now. It’s the ultimate mind hack that allows you to get more in touch with the Force within you.
- Laser-Sight Gazing. This same focus can be achieved by looking at one object for an extended period of time. I’m not going to lie, this is difficult. You’re allowed to blink but your eyes will still feel as if they’re burning. It just gets very uncomfortable. LOOK AT IT! However, it’s an amazing ability, as you’ll pierce the veil with your intense concentration. The more you’re trying to force it, the more uncomfortable it will get. Simply let it happen. You can do the same exercise while walking. Look at a single point away in the distance, such as a signpost, a rooftop or a tree and fix your eyesight purely on that until you’ve passed it.
- Concentration Curls. A bodybuilding exercise used to flex your mental muscles. It’s based on doing reps of periods of focus. Simply hold a thought, a concept or an image in your head for a set amount of time. For instance, visualize the ins and outs of your breath. Envision how you’re inhaling pure light and exhaling the Dark Side, which is nothing else but afflictive thoughts and emotions trying to convert you. Do deep full range breathing into your stomach, as it allows you to also voluntarily control your autonomic nervous system, which is another skill a jedi needs to know.
- Conversational Presence. While talking to another person, gaze into their eyes and give them your fullest attention. Dedicate your entire being to them. It can get uncomfortable as well, as the majority of people don’t have the jedi-like concentration to even look at their face. The other person will feel your presence and the immense amount of power within you. This will transform your relationships and conversations, as you’ll almost overpower them, but not in a negative sense. They will simply feel how a jedi-knight can influence the world around them with the energy of the Force and the force of their will.
A Spiritual Lesson About Focus
There’s an amazing story about the Hindu epic hero Arjuna and his jedi-like concentration.
A Hindu master was teaching all of his disciples how to shoot a bird target with a bow and arrow.
He called his son Ashwathama, and asked, “Ashwathama, see there is a bird in the tree. What do you see?” Ashwathama answered, “I see the tree, I see the bird, and I see your feet.” The Guru said, “That’s very good, put your bow down.”
Then he called Duryodhan. The man asked, “What do you see?” And Duryodhan replied, “Guru, I see the bird sitting in the tree, can I shoot him down?” “No, no, put your weapon down.”
And then he called Arjuna. And he said, “Arjuna, there’s a bird in the tree, take aim, what do you see?” Arjuna said, “I see the eye of the bird.” The Guru asked, “What else do you see?” And Arjuna said, “That’s all.” The man said, “Very good, then shoot.” The arrow went straight and hit the eye of the bird.
When you take aim, all you see is the target. You need to have that sense of concentration that excludes everything else. Cut away the non-essential and narrow down your field of awareness. This way you’re actually respecting the present moment by giving your entire attention to it. That’s ultimate devotion and commitment, in which you’re merging together with the object of your intense focus – there’s nothing else.
Become a Jedi-Knight
This article was meant to teach you how to increase your ability to focus and concentrate on only one task at a time. It’s the foundational skill of a jedi-knight and a warrior, as it dictates how you’re going to be doing any activity.
Not knowing how to narrow down your attention solely to the task at hand prevents you from ever achieving great results. With a mind that’s all over the place and a mindset of just enough, you’ll remain a mediocre apprentice forever.
With increased focus, the quality of your life will improve across all domains. You’ll be able to dedicate yourself to activities and thus get that much better at them. Your relationships will also improve, as you’ll always be present. What’s more, your consciousness will also increase, which allows you to experience the here and now without losing yourself into the midst of distractions.
The energy of the Force and the force of your willpower will take you far. Focus is the biggest determining factor of success in anything you do. Don’t rob yourself from the present but work on attaining jedi-like concentration in everything you do.