Since the dawn of age, there has been prolific Scientists and Mathematicians who have been able to tap into a state of flow. Attaining a state of laser focus is a rare occurance due to the technological boom of the past century. We are immersing ourselves an overload of stimuli from technoligcal sources such a televisions, cell phones, laptops, gaming devices, etc. Our reward signaling is short circuting to the point of burn-out.
A constant need for external stimulation prevents the ability to shut it out. That is, the likelihood of achieving flow is much lower in this fast-paced and stressful society. The prevalence of attention deficit disorders is on the rise; however, this is easily skewed by the shear number of distractions we face each day. The following sections address ways to combat this epidemic by converting distraction into laser focus.
Ease the Tension
Anxiety or any activity that puts the mind into overdrive slowly eliminates the ability to focus. When brain waves increase in frequency, processing speed capacity increases. The issue is that we naturally adapt to a certain processing rate. Based on this rate, we organize and compress information into knowledge.
If we lose the ability to affectively organize information, then thoughts begin to scatter radially rather than converge on a point. Consider what happens when straight beams of light enter a convex lens. Because the lens is curved inward, the beams refract and converge on a point on the opposite side of the lens. By relaxing the mind, thoughts are able to flow smoothly with control.
It is much easier to channel our mental energy inward when thoughts are less sporadic. There is a direct relationship between working memory and focus. That is, a higher working memory is more favorable when narrowing in on a task. Stress depletes working memory over time, so it is essential to find activities that ease the mind. Destressing activities include exercise, meditation, playing/listening to music, contemplation, etc. What truly matters is how much time, energy, and patience we can devote to a task at hand. The more patient we are, the easier it is to channel our energy inward.
Patience is a Virtue
There is a direct relationship between patience and focus. When the mind diverts attention to many tasks in a short period, the reward system adjusts accordingly. Passive interests such as movies, social media, and leisurely activities provide a source of immediate reward that requires minimal work. Spending too much time on these tasks can lead to impatience because our reward feedback accelerates. If our expectations aren't met fast enough, it can become frustrating. At the same time, these passive rewards do not feed us in the long run. We must add active interests, which require work and energy to attain.
Focus on Active Interests
Active interests include goal orientating activities that provide us with a challenge. Focus helps potentiate the reward because our progression toward a goal depends on it. If there is no movement and an expectation is never met, then we are more likely to revert back to short term rewards for satisfaction. A reasonable expectation must be set; otherwise, we may exert too much work or fall back in dissapointment.
Shifting our attention from passive interests to active interests transitions our mind from distraction to laser focus. An active reward feeds and sticks with us in the long run due to the experience of overcoming a challenge. This transition causes us to become more tolerable of heavier work loads and more patient with the process. To manage each load, it is important to devote enough time to keep the engine running.
The Dynamic Trio
Diet, exercise, and sleep are essential for maintaining oxygen uptake to the brain. The body constantly attempts to conserve and balance its energy reserves. Following the natural cycle helps the body sustain itself. For instance, our biological clock depends heavily on the day-night cycle.
If our internal system is not in sync with this cycle, then our body recharges less efficiently. If our food intake or diet does not follow a cycle of repetition or a scheduled routine, then it causes energy to shift more frequently. If we do not evert ourselves or exercise frequently, then our body tends towards stagnation.
These three health factors contribute greatly to our overall well-being by promoting oxygenation and energy. This allows our mental health to stay sharp so that our mindset is clearer and more positive. To focus on a task, there needs to be sufficient energy. If you've ever delved head-on into a creative project, you soon realize how much energy it consumes.
Since our internal energy reserves greatly impact our ability to focus, it is important to listen to the body. For instance, red meat expends more energy relative to fish. For this reason, a lower dose of red meat has the same level of toxicity as a higher dose of fish. We do not know where the limit exists absolutely, but we can gauge it if our focus directs inward. The same concept holds true for exercise or any activity that causes the body and mind to exert energy. We derive fuel from these sources, however, the fuel could easily deplete in excess.
Fructose is a common source of fuel that aids repair and recovery after a rigorous workout. Have you ever wondered why inuits rarely consume fruit but rather high fat animal tissue? Fruit is grown in areas near the equator for a reason. It is very cooling for the body and supplies a rich source of sugar that temporarily constricts blood flow. This is not condusive for survival in cold regions. The restriction of blood flow is negated by exersise. So, if we do not exert physical work, then consuming too much fructose only causes circulation to become sluggish or viscous. It is also difficult for the liver to process in high amounts.
To balance internal energy, we need to focus on moderation in all areas. We operate very much like a machine. The internal organs all work in sync to perform many biological processes. Throwing off one area will shift energy away from the other areas. For instance, stress causes the reproductive system to shut down. This is a survival mehcanism because the likelihood of biological survival reduces during stress. Also, energy diverts away from the reproductive system to deal with the stress. Finding constructive ways to cope with these situations is key. Building a strong internal core aids the resistance to external stress.
Food for Thought
Certain foods indirectly aid the ability to focus or think fluidly. Generally, foods that consume a lot of internal energy reserves are not ideal. Fasting periodically or giving the body rest can refresh mental clarity. The following foods can support a healthy level of focus:
Eggs are a rich source of choline, which converts to acetylcholine via the liver. Acetylcholine acts as a neurotransmitter and neuromodulator that regulates various functions of the brain such a memory, attention, and motivation. Bananas are a rich source of vitamin B6, which is an important regulator of homocysteine - a by-product of the methylation cycle.
Too much homocysteine damages neurons via excitation and triggers cardiovascular problems. Walnuts and salmon are a rich sources of omega 3, which exhibit anti-inflammatory propeties. Reducing inflammation optimizes circulation and oxygen uptake by the brain. Salmon adds additional methione- an precursor to the methylation cycle. Proper methylation is critical for neurotransmtter balance and motivation. Spinach contains an array of minerals that support the glandular system, improve circulation, and reduce stress.
Although these sources of food aid internal energy reserves, we must learn to channel the energy properly to maintain focus. Tuning out the external world eases the transition toward a state of flow. The mind must be able to gather external input and converge inward to a solution.
Learning how to channel the energy is a constructive manner is critical for maintaining laser focus. Too much divergence can disturb the ability to create a state of flow. Maintaining proper hygeine and health helps prevent too many energy shifts which can cause the mind to become chaotic. Chaos is part of the creative process, but too much chaos or stimuli negates the ability to focus. Being able to control this source of energy dictates where the mind will travel.
Hyperfocus is a convergent process. The mind focuses narrowly on a point with exclusion of external reality. Harnessing the ability to direct mental energy inward for sustained periods is not easy. The reward that we derive is inseparable from our ability to focus.
Meditation as an Antidote
Meditation forces mental energy to direct inward to a region of interest. By focusing or being in tune with our internal world, we can better manage external stressors. Being able to channel energy in a positive manner helps prevent rapid shifts that consume energy. Calming down our brain waves helps the mind shift away from distraction. A "fight or flight" state negates the ability to focus. By reversing the direction of brain waves toward alpha or theta waves, the mind transitions to a dream-like or flow state. This occurs when the external world is calm, so that energy can be drawn inward.
Consider the rising cases of ADHD over the past decade. This partly attributes to our obsession and addiction to various distractions brought about by technological advance. If menial tasks yield little reward, then the mind must divert to strong interests to compensate. The hyperfocus aspect of ADHD is driven by a higher yield in reward. Therefore, we must find or discover strong interests to hone our focus inward regardless of our designation. Otherwise, we will not derive enough feedback to endure the long journey ahead. Setting long term goals is a good way to start the journey.
Creating The Path
There are infinitely many paths that we could take in life, but only a finite number to choose. If we lack direction in life, then focus will often dwindle away. A challege is the precusor to focus. If we push our way through a difficult challenge, then we recieve more reward. It takes focus to increase the odds of success, but we must be willing to fight through it. Setting long term goals helps set the challenge. Our drive, energy, and focus leads us closer to the destination.
Passion and motivation are key driving forces in life. Without a drive to progress in some form, we begin to immerse ourselves in passive activities. Alcohol and drug use is often an escape to fill these missing voids. The journey is never going to be smooth. There is always going to be dips and obstacles that provide new challenges. Accepting these challeneges is critical to maintain a converging mindset. Sometimes, we may stray off coarse due to circumstances or health issues. There are many remedies that reinforce or strengthen our ability to focus.
Remedies for Focus
There is no quick miracle cure for lack of focus or inattentiveness. It is a process that takes time to restore and manage. Brain fog and physical exhaustion are two common symptoms that reduce the ability to focus clearly. Targeting these two areas and promoting balance will recharge any lost motivation. Brain fog often arises due to neurochemical imbalances, but it could also be a consequence of poor circulation. Physical exhaustion often stems from external stressors such as excess exercise, caffeine, or fear. This creates a huge strain on the organ system as a whole.
A Case of Deficiencies
Correcting deficiencies and restoring balance to the mind and body are key pathways for healing and recovery. The methylation cycle of the body is key for balancing neurotransmitters within the brain. If poor methylation exists, then key neurotransmitters such as dopamine will be lacking. There is a strong relationship between dopamine supply and focus because motivation is the driving force.
Eating a varied diet that is full of antioxidents, dense in nutrients, and easy to digest helps erase vitamin and mineral deficiencies over time. Taking adaptogens such as ashwagandha helps balance the organ system and build resistance to stress. Consuming herbs, bitters, and spices add potent antioxidents and flavanoids to the diet to minimize inflammation. Cinnamon, oregano, dandalion root, black cumin, and ginseng are commonly used for various ailments ranging from liver stagnation to memory issues.
Regenerate Focus with Nootropics
Nootropics are gaining popularity as a remedy for memory problems and cognitive issues. There are a few nootropics that are worth mentioning such as nigella sativa (black cumin seed), lions mane, and bacopa.
Nigella Sativa is well known for increasing acetylcholine levels in the brain and acting as a calming agent. Acetylcholine is extremely important for cognition and memory. Those who exhibit brain fog or alzhiemers disease are known to have low levels of acetylcholine or poor receptor activity. Nigella Sativa is also a potent antioxident that acts as a protectant against liver disease. The liver's role in detoxification helps prevent or halt neurological decline. We need the mental faculties for focus. Therefore, preserving mental health goes a long way to sustain the ability of laser focus.
Lion's Mane is a medicinal mushroom belonging to the tooth fungus group. It has been extensively studied as a candidate for eraticating Alzhiemers Disease. Lion's Mane has shown promise for ability to regenerate nerve damage in the brain. The benefits stem from its positive influence on NGF (Neural Growth Factor) - synthesis. Aqueous extracts of Lion's Mane are proven to promote the connectivity and growth of neurons. This holds a lot of promise for preserving mental health.
Bacopa root is shown to benefit executive functioning skills. Working memory is a strong component of executive function. When performing a task, it is much easier to consolidate or process information when the mind can hold more stimuli in a short span. Poor executive function impairs the ability to focus. Bacopa root improves visualspatial fluency, processing speed, learning, and memory according to studies. The beneficial effects are more prominant for older folks. Nonetheless, Bacopa is a great addition for anyone struggling with executive functioning deficits or brain fog.
The ability to enter a state of flow or laser focus is not easy. It consumes a disproportionate amount of energy relative to a passive lifestyle. At the same time, setting long term goals and being patient with the process is key to dive into focus. We have to reframe our mindset to detach from the expectation of immediate results. Shifting from a passive lifestyle to an active lifsyle will initiate the process. Learning how to channel the energy constructively is a difficult challenge to endure. Once we accept it, the transition from sub-optimal focus to laser focus begins. It starts with the pursuit of rewarding and captivating experiences. Adding nootropics to the mix is a great way to maintain positive mental energy. This energy helps sustain focus for longer periods.
Welcome to my site. I am Mark Hurley and I enjoy researching topics relating to Physiology, Psychology, Philosophy, and Mathematics. I have successfully reversed hormonal deficiency due to stress and created this blog to share with you what I've learned on my road to recovery.