In a NY Time article advocating equipping children with cognitive focusing skills, Daniel Goleman sites a study indicating that ability to manage attention is a better predictor of financial success and health than either IQ or SES of family of origin!

When it comes to physical, mental and spiritual health, regulating attention is critical.

specificity, focus, control

The physical therapist who guided my shoulder rehabilitation last year had a mantra: specificity, control, focus. It’s all about working smarter, not harder and longer. The more I focused on working my rotator cuff muscles and not compensating by using other muscles or momentum, the better my outcome. I could spend many hours mindlessly going through the routines while distracted by an audio book or watching television and not make the progress I did by spending half as much time with specificity, focus and control.

And so it is with any part of our lives: regulating attention is an essential skill, especially as opportunities to be distracted increase.

Recent studies highlight the potential of benefits of mindfulness training for treating female sexual dysfunction. For reasons beyond the scope of this blog, many women grow up in varying degrees of disconnection from our sexual awareness. Thus, disconnection from arousal or the capacity for pleasure and orgasm. Simply learning to “tune in” instead of “tune out” can make a big difference in our capacity for sexual satisfaction.

If the connection between regulating attention and sexual health intrigues you, consider joining me for the Soul & Sexuality at Eclessia church in Hollywood beginning October 20. I’ll introduce a Christ-centered form of attentional prayer as a tool for supporting sexual health.

In the coming years I suspect we will see a lot more about the implications of simple mindful awareness practices on mental and physical health, as well as success in other realms of life.

In the meantime, here’s a simple exercise to work your attention regulation muscle. Read through the exercise, then set a timer for a minute to practice. With eyes closed, take a long full inhale, followed by an even longer, slower exhale. Purse your lips like you’re blowing up a balloon to help you regulate the exhale. Then bring your full attention to your breath and just notice your breath. Notice the feeling of air as it passes into your nose, through your throat into your your lungs. Notice your chest or belly slightly expand on the inhale and contract on the exhale.

That’s it.

Doing this exercise a few times a day can be a powerful start on increasing your attention regulation capacity. Who knows, you might even improve your health!