The mind can wander off on its own, without warning, at an unfavorable timing like the middle of a conversation.
What was I writing?
Oh right, focus. These attention-grabbing thoughts can range from positive memories or anticipation to past cringe moments. Something awkward you said as a kid perhaps? The distracted mind knows no limits.
Off-task thoughts account for half of our thinking according to Mengran Xu, a Ph.D. candidate from the Department of Psychology at the University of Waterloo, in Canada. His academic team published a study on the protective effects of brief meditation in the scientific journal Consciousness and Cognition on May 1st. (Science Daily, 2017)
The researchers determined a ten minutes mind workout was enough to decrease the repetitive loss of focus in anxious subjects.
"We also found that meditation practice appears to help people to shift their attention from their internal worries to the present-moment external world, which enables better focus on a task at hand." explains Xu.
Meditation does not have to be about anxiety or even spirituality. Modern science is beginning to catch up on this age-old wisdom. The benefits are measurable, and the skill is no different than learning how to ride a bike or curl a dumbbell. You might suck at first, but practice sharpens the mind like you strengthen a muscle.
Headspace is a mobile application to simplify meditation. You can try it for free, all you need is a ten-minute investment. The first sessions had me hooked, I am now at hour 184, and I plan on continuing far beyond 500.
You may not find it useful, however. There is only one way to know: Meditate before a workout as a scientific experiment. Note any changes in focus as you exercise. Does your mind wander a little less?