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Practice: Strengthening Attention to Improve Your Focus – Use the Chime Meditation Timer from Now & Zen

Toyokuni Utagawa, Flower Arrangement

Toyokuni Utagawa, Flower Arrangement

By skillfully managing your attention, you’re able to both experience life in a balanced way and stay oriented in a positive, productive direction. John Milton might have been thinking of the power of focus when he wrote: “The mind is its own place, and in itself / Can make a heav’n of hell, a hell of heav’n.”

Like consciousness or mind, attention is a complex neurological and behavioral business. There’s no tidy “attention center” in the brain. Instead, an ensemble of alerting, orienting, and executive networks collaborate to attune you to what’s going on in your inner or outer world in a coherent way that points you toward an appropriate response.

Along with performing the Apollonian task of organizing your world, attention enables you to have the kind of Dionysian experience beautifully described by the old-fashioned term rapt—completely absorbed, engrossed, fascinated, perhaps even “carried away”—that underlies life’s deepest pleasures, from the scholar’s study to the carpenter’s craft to the lover’s obsession. Some individuals slip into it more readily, but research shows that with some reflection, experimentation, and practice, all of us can cultivate this profoundly attentive state and experience it more often.

Considering attention’s importance, it’s surprising that until recently, science has come up with few strategies to improve it. Most new strategies have a “back to the future” quality derived from their origin in meditation, secularized and made amenable to scientific study. These cognitive regimens can strengthen attention and are both free and safe, all of which must appeal to the 78 million baby boomers and their aging children, who are equally concerned about maintaining their mental and physical health.

Bamboo Alarm Clocks & Meditation Timers

Bamboo Alarm Clocks & Meditation Timers

Deciding what to pay attention to for this hour, day, week, or year, much less a lifetime, is a peculiarly human predicament, and your quality of life largely depends on how you handle it. Moses got his focus from God; Picasso from his nearly supernatural creativity. We have other motivations and gifts, and most of us have to go through a more complicated process to find the right things to focus on. We must resist the temptation to drift along, reacting to whatever happens to us next, and deliberately select targets, from activities to relationships, that are worthy of our finite supplies of time and attention.

Perhaps the most important thing I’ve learned is that it shouldn’t take a crisis to show you that your life is the sum total of what you focus on or to make you question that your well-being depends on what happens to happen to you. After running that tough experiment, however, I have a plan for the rest of my life. I’ll choose my targets with care—writing a book or making a stew, visiting a friend or looking out a window—then give them my rapt attention. In short, I’ll live the focused life, because it’s the best kind there is.

Excerpted from Utne Reader, March/April 2010 from the book Rapt: Attention and the Focused Life by Winifred Gallagher

Although meditation can be done in almost any context, practitioners usually employ a quiet, tranquil space, a meditation cushion or bench, and some kind of timing device to time the meditation session.  Ideally, the more these accoutrements can be integrated the better.  Thus, it is conducive to a satisfying meditation practice to have a timer or clock that is tranquil and beautiful.  Using a kitchen timer or beeper watch is less than ideal.  And it was with these considerations in mind that we designed our digital Zen Alarm Clock and practice timer.  This unique “Zen Clock” features a long-resonating acoustic chime that brings the meditation session to a gradual close, preserving the environment of stillness while also acting as an effective time signal.

Zen Alarm Clocks with Chimes & Singing Bowls

Zen Alarm Clocks with Chimes & Singing Bowls

Now & Zen’s Chime Timer and Alarm Clock Store

1638 Pearl Street

Boulder, CO  80302

(800) 779-6383

Posted in Chime Alarm Clocks, Japanese Inspired Zen Clocks, Meditation Timers, Meditation Tools, Natural Awakening, Now & Zen Alarm Clocks