Updated: Apr 29
Here is a quick exercise. Think of a well-known successful person. Who comes to mind?
Whether you choose a famous actor, artist, athlete, or entrepreneur — they all share rare yet valuable traits. Two of these traits will likely be “focus” and “motivation.”
History is full of people who face adversity and distraction but stay focused through the course, achieving their dreams despite the obstacles in their path.
Like who? Before it became the children’s literary staple, Dr. Seuss and his book “Green Eggs & Ham” was turned down by 27 publishers. On his journey to creating the vacuum, Sir James Dyson spent his entire life savings and 5100+ prototypes. Before inspiring millions worldwide, Oprah Winfrey’s first producer found her “unfit for TV,” firing her on the spot.
Want more? Before becoming the world’s first billionaire author, J.K. Rowling wrote the Harry Potter series as a single mom on welfare. Before winning 6 NBA titles, Michael Jordan did not even make the cut to play on his high school varsity basketball team. Hollywood’s prolific movie maker, Steven Spielberg, was repeatedly rejected from film school.
Resistance: Distracting Us from Our Work
So, how do some of us remain focused and motivated while others cannot stay on task?
In his bestselling book “The War of Art: Winning the Inner Creative Battle,” the famous novelist Steven Pressfield describes the great struggle all creators, entrepreneurs, athletes, and artists face.
Pressfield posits that “resistance,” a universal yet metaphorical force throws hurdles in every maker’s path, whether writing a novel, creating a masterpiece, or building a business.
Resistance serves one purpose; to maintain the status quo. Suppose we do not do our work; mission complete. Procrastination riles up fear and anxiety. From awakening the naysayer within to opening yet another browser tab, resistance shows its gnarly face in many ways.
Every “maker” and “doer” worldwide must battle resistance. No one is immune. We must fight resistance daily to do our work, realize our dreams, and grow.
The problem is that our world is a buffet of distractions. Because our digital devices are “always on,” and they shower us with enormous amounts of content, our brains seek something new every waking moment. Resistance is stronger than ever. Its fiery breath was hotter than ever.
How Meditation Slays Resistance, Restores Focus
So, what’s the solution to this issue?
To win the resistance war, you must focus and drive. Luckily, meditation always keeps warriors on the battlefield.
So, when your brain needs to manage incoming stimuli, a region called the “thalamus” serves as the “gateway to consciousness,” ensuring only the important stuff gets passed to the deeper, “higher thinking” areas like the cerebral cortex and subcortical regions.
Our always connected, the overstimulated world has beaten our thalamus to a pulp. Broken thalamus disorders like anxiety and ADHD continue to bombard us with so much data before our overloaded brains raise the white flag.
Giving Our Overworked Brains Some R & R
Fortunately, meditation eases the burden. Like a river that down streams residents, agriculture, and industry with water to take showers, grow crops, and do business — a river dam lets through only what is needed. Likewise, meditation “upstream-filters” sensory data long before our “overworked thalamus” ever must deal with it.
Because meditation saves our “gateways to the conscious” thalamus, it finally has time to rest & recuperate. Several studies show meditation’s marked effect on the thalamic gray matter “density” and “thickness,” it appears that a bit of R & R is just what the brain doctor ordered.
The relaxed and fully functional thalamus allows the “core” of our brain (prefrontal cortex) to think more deeply, make more well-thought-out decisions, problem-solve more effectively, and do its job better. A well-organized brain is a highly focused brain.
By training your brain to be focused through failure, through diversion, and through our over-stimulated array of distractions, meditation can make anything possible.
Dream big and aim for the stars. Meditation can help you hit your targets.
Meditation Supercharges Self-Motivation Too
Meditation trains the brain to be laser-focused. But what about motivation? That’s just as important as focus.
While focusing on your goals is enough to spark you to do great things, if your inner fire needs more kindling, the ancient mind practice has you covered. Research shows that meditation strengthens the brain’s willpower, self-control, and “motivation” part: the “dorsolateral prefrontal cortex.” So, meditation covers both focus and motivation.
We all have something great to bring to the world. What awesome “thing” do you get?
Make it happen with meditation.
Image Provided by Adobe Stock (April 2023).