Dear Lucy: I am having such an awful time paying attention. I am a serious student and just graduated high school. I intend to be somebody and make a difference in the world. But, I just can't concentrate or pay attention anymore. My mind is just thinking all the time. Sometimes it's good stuff and most of the time it's just junk that I can't turn off. My Auntie reads your article and said to ask what you think.
– Signed, Messed up!
Dear Messed up: Congratulations on your graduation and a shout out to all of those who are moving on to a new adventure in life learning. This is also an excellent time to be asking the question you have.
The human mind is such a wonderful and powerful thing! It is what sets us apart from the lower animals. Animals think purely instinctively. Humans have the capacity to choose their thoughts and to reason from one conclusion to another. The very best of reasoners are the people who learn to consciously control and choose their thoughts.
Something wonderful is about to happen in your life because there is a willingness in you to listen to your spirit, which is urging you to take control! Theron Q. Dumont wrote a book "The Power of Concentration" close to 100 years ago. It is full of concentration exercises and wisdom about the gift and power of concentration. You can get it free online at www.freepower ofconcentration.com.
One of the things Dumont says is that "The successful man is not always the smartest man but he is always the man who can control his thoughts." He also says that, "Concentration is just a case of willing to do a certain thing and doing it." And this thing, will or will power, is the real key to controlling your thinking.
Very few people understand the correct use and development of will power and so they become failures in life...not because they are dumb, but because they never train themselves to be still, to concentrate and to listen. This takes will power and will power is not force. Will power is our power of free will and free will is the power to choose and to do so consciously.
A mind that is not disciplined will simply terrorize you, sometimes making you believe you must be crazy. Yet, it is just like an undisciplined child. Fixing this is possible and requires the use of will power, patience and determination. The payoff is being able to have anything you put your mind to.
Here is one of the easy concentration exercises and is to be done for seven days in a row. If you miss a day start all over. Try to do it at the same time each day at a time and place where you will not be disturbed. Get a notebook so you can write about your experience each time you finish.
Sit down comfortably in front of a clock with a second hand and for 10 minutes, pay your undivided attention to the movement of the second hand only. Relax fully, but don't allow your body to distract you. You will want to scratch, move and all sorts of things. Simply tell yourself that attending to the clock is what you joyfully choose to do right now. Each time you find your thoughts going to yesterday, tomorrow or anyplace other than the present moment, gently bring yourself back to the boring moment by choosing to do so. When the time is up, write about it.
With each passing day, you will grow more confident in your ability to choose your thoughts and you will also become very proud of your ability to make a decision and follow through on it. This is what sets the successful apart from the failures. You may do this anytime, anywhere by giving your attention for 10 minutes to your fingertip, a doorknob, an imaginary dot on the wall. You may gaze at any object as long as it is basically boring. Your generation, more than any other, has been taught to crave entertainment. This will help you to break that habit also.
When I find my thoughts trying to terrorize me or overpower me, I remember this verse, Isaiah 26:3 "thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee...." As the unruly thoughts show up, I consciously look for God or goodness in the thought by asking "Where is God in this?" It works every time and will bring me back into control without having to get in a fight with my thoughts!
Don't be "messed up," use your gift of free will...choose!
(For help with the feelings that get in the way of prayer and peace of mind, get Lucy's new book, "BE NOT ANXIOUS." Order it directly from her at 901-907-0260 or go to her web site www.heartworks4u.com.)