The one in this weekend’s paper was good but only just got round to putting it on.
How to … concentrate
Saturday September 23, 2006
Concentration is good in exams, bad in orange juice. Concentration requires focusing on one thing to the exclusion of all others. It’s like a mental wedding vow.
Meditation is a way of relaxing by concentrating on nothing. Concentrating on one thing stops you worrying about a lot of other nameless things. That’s why hobbies are popular. No one really wants to think about stamps; they just don’t want to think about anything else. Women sometimes wonder why men prefer the tinkering and polishing and cataloguing to the actual doing – it’s because that’s where the absorbing, single-minded concentration happens.
Many people’s lives are devoid of concentration. Modern culture is served up in small, easily digestible chunks that require the attention span of a gnat. But young people can concentrate on computer games for days at a time. It’s often why they need the drugs, just to keep going.
Like sheep, minds tend to wander. Concentration is the sheep dog of the mind. However, sometimes your mind concentrates when you don’t want it to. Maybe you can’t get something out of your head, such as the sneering face of your ex-partner. At times such as this, it’s more difficult to get your mind to wander.
The natural span for concentration is 45 minutes. That’s why half an hour for a TV show seems too short and an hour too long. Sticking out the tongue can aid concentration. This is because you can’t distract yourself with talking, and at the same time other people won’t distract you because you look like an idiot.
Events that concentrate the mind are generally unpleasant things that happen to you. It would probably be better to concentrate your own mind before having it concentrated for you, but only people with a will of iron choose that route.
Most people want more intensity in life. You can get this by picking something that does it for you, for instance skydiving. Or you can get it by concentrating your mind on something and bringing it, and you, to life at the same time. Concentration is an extreme sport: it’s when you become one with the thing you are trying to achieve. It’s a mystical union between desire and desired. That’s why giving somebody your undivided attention is a very powerful and sexy thing to do.