Developing Mindfulness: A Workout For your Brain

After the last two newsletter articles, I hope you have made paying attention to your attention part of your daily habits.  I have provided you with specific things you can focus your attention on in matches to help you stay in the present moment.  I imagine many of you though have still found it difficult to keep your attention locked in where you want it.  There are a lot of factors that can go into making it difficult to focus your attention, but one of the most common is mental time travel.

Your brain is able to jump from one moment to another in the blink of an eye.  When you are in a stressful situation such as attempting to close out a match, your brain can launch into the future and start thinking about your next opponent.  You could also be down match point, and your brain can launch you into the past remembering that terrible shot you hit three points earlier that got you into this position. This is known as mind wandering, and I am sorry to report that minds like to do this.  What you need to know is that with each trip to the future or into the past, you are diminishing your brain’s ability to stay locked in and focused on the task at hand.  Researchers whose sole purpose is to look at how the attention systems of brains work would tell you that your brain spends about 50% of its waking hours in a wandering state.