The first step to master your mind is improving attention. Do you know why?
There is a famous saying, “Rome was not built in a day,” and you need long-term attention to do something great. Similarly, you need a long-term focus on yourself to master your mind.
And the question is how to improve attention.
Attention is a practice; practice transforms into habits when we practice it for long. When attention wanders away, bring it back, practice it and make it a habit.
Humans have more intelligence than animals because humans can think. All the innovative or creative activities of this planet are the physical manifestation of what we think.
➡ Chapter 1: 4 Steps to Be Your Own Life Coach
➡ Chapter 2: How to Understand Your Mind
👉 Part 1: What is Consciousness?
👉 Part 2: What is the Subconscious Mind?
👉 Part 3: How to Control Your Mind
👉 Part 5: You Are Here
➡ Chapter 3: Why Do You Need to Be Attentive?
➡ Chapter 4: How to Improve Attention
➡ Chapter 5: How to Boost Your Intelligence
➡ Chapter 6: What is Self-Awareness?
👉 Part 1: How To Stop Unwanted Thoughts
👉 Part 2: How to Be Happy
👉 Part 3: How to Deal With Anxiety & Depression
Here in this article, I will provide a few simple and natural tips to master your mind. And to master your mind, first of all, you should have some basic idea of how our mind works.
You can also read how to understand your mind.
Let me explain a few basic functionalities of our mind.
Our mind has four different functionalities, these are- automatic functions, unstructured pattern of thinking, structured pattern of thinking and engaging functionality.
Automatic functions are called habits; these habits are developed through REPEATED practice. For example, when you started learning the English language, you read alphabets by alphabets, then you started reading word by word, and perhaps, you can now read sentence by sentence.
The unstructured pattern of thinking is when you take actions or think when external sensory inputs or pre-embedded thoughts loads into your mind unconsciously. And the structured pattern is when you do or think what you want.
In the engaging state of mind, your only essential sensory inputs and essential thought loads into your brain’s processing unit. And the moment your stop engaging your mind, consciously or subconsciously, the external sensory inputs or internal thoughts hijack your engaged state.
For example, what happens when your phone rings while you are fully engaged? What happens when you focus on your problem while focusing on your goal? You can’t engage yourself right.
I hope you have understood the basic idea of four different functionalities of our mind.
Now, it’s time to let you know how to master your mind.
Here are the 10 natural steps to master your mind.
Let’s get started
10 Ways to Master Your Mind
Provide mental diets relevant to your life and purpose
We are what we feed to our brain. Our words or actions are the reflections of our mental diets.
You may not know what the mathematical wavelet functions are, but you know simple arithmetic calculation. How can you know something which you never feed to your brain?
We all have 24 hours a day. Very few people feed to the brain what is relevant to them and they are called as intellectuals. You should also know that we feed to the brain through social behavior and cognitive behavior.
Let me explain through example how we feed through the brain.
John, a 30 years old IT professional spends 8 hours a day on his work, 2 hours on social media, 1 hour on TV and 3 hours on social gossip.
On the other hand, Sophia, a 30-year-old IT professional spends 8 hours a day on her work, 4 hours on learning relevant things to her life and 2 hours on watching news or documentary.
They joined the company 6 years back at the same job profile and on the same day, however, John still works as an IT engineer and now, Sophia is his boss.
Did you get the story? Understand it, realize it and start analyzing your mental diets.
Observe how you think
We can think in form of images or sounds, we can’t think in the form of taste, smell or sensation.
Close your eyes and try to think of your mother. You will visualize her image.
And now try the think the taste of your favorite food. You can’t feel the taste, you will hear, “Yeah, the food is tasty or you will visualize an image of that food.”
Similarly, when we think about a smell or sensation, we hear some sound or visualize images.
Our brain can respond to taste, smell or sensation when these are in action, but we can respond and think what we see and what we hear.
As I explained above about the basic functionality of our mind, we have the unstructured pattern of thinking and structured pattern of thinking. When an unstructured pattern of irrelevant thinking attacks you, bring the attention back to what you want to do.
Realize how you remember
What childhood incident do you still remember?
Try to recall.
Is there any extreme emotion of happiness, sorrow or joy was present at that incident?
Humans can remember extreme emotion, divergent information, and related information easily. Our subconscious mind is always in recording mode. When the subconscious mind encounters something different and extreme, it can remember easily.
Have you watched the movie “The Dark Knight-2008”? You may still remember the face of the Joker. His face is divergent information to our mind. Similarly, when you see something scary or something unusual, you can remember easily and that is what the divergent information is.
Now, let’s understand how we can remember relational information easily.
“Swami Vivekananda died in the year 1902 AD.”
How do you remember the year?
When you remember 1900+2 AD, it is easy to remember, because you have related the year with something easy to remember. Try to recall any data, and observe how you remember those data.
Also, when we think, either consciously or subconsciously, all the related information of that thought loads into our mind. If I ask you, “When did the last time you went to a party? What kind of dress were you wearing? Did you go alone?” Observe how related information loads into your mind automatically.
Apart from extreme emotion, divergent information, and related information, we can remember through repeated actions or practice. We develop automatic function or habits through repeated actions.
Try to recall your life as a student, you had to read and practice the definitions or facts many times to remember. And finally, you remembered all the facts and data through repeated actions for your examination.
Engage your mind
Our mind takes rest only when we sleep, and at all other time, it needs engagement.
When you don’t engage the mind, it loads any pre-embedded mental diets as thoughts or external sensory inputs subconsciously.
You have to realize how you got engaged unconsciously when you don’t control the mind. But, how can realize the unconscious thought?
Don’t do anything; close your eyes and observe how many different thoughts or sensory inputs can engage you. And in this case, you are consciously letting the mind to engage it automatically. However, you don’t know when and how the mind controls you subconsciously unless you are aware of it.
We all are the perpetual student of this planet. Learning is indispensable from human intelligence. As I said in the first step, you have to provide relevant mental diets to engage your mind so that you can master the mind. So, when you are free, keep focusing on learning things relevant to you, but don’t let the mind engage you automatically.
Ask questions to yourself
Do you know most the people fail to reach the “Formal Operational Stage” of cognitive development?
In this stage, deductive thinking, hypothetical thinking, and metacognition are developed. And these thinking capabilities create the difference of intelligence among us.
All these skills are the reflection of what we practice. Nobody can master an art without practice.
When this stage is fully developed, you can be a good decision maker, problem-solver, and an analyst, and all these cognitive functions execute automatically.
Here is an excerpt from verywellmind about the observation of formal operations person.
“The formal operational person considers past experiences, present demands, and future consequences in attempting maximizing the success of his or her adaptation to the world.” – Salkind, 2004
I have told you to practice asking questions to yourself to master your mind naturally. Do you know why?
Deductive thinking, hypothetical thinking or metacognition is all about asking questions. For example, when you are making a decision, you have to ask “What will be the consequence of this action? Why is this decision necessary? How will the decision be executed? What will happen when I execute the decision?” etc. And all these thinking are the practice of asking questions to oneself.
Avoid unstructured pattern of thinking
As I have already mentioned, unstructured thinking is a state of mind where people engage themselves unconsciously. The source of engagement can be a subconscious thought or sensory stimulation.
Let me explain how the unstructured thinking engages us.
Henry, a teenager boy spends 3 hours a day browsing social network. While browsing the social network, when he noticed fake news of mob lynching, he engaged himself in that news for a while unconsciously. Then he scrolled the page down and he noticed a romantic video, his mind also got engaged there, and then he noticed a video of a funny animal. He also engaged himself there unconsciously.
On the other hand, Alex, of his age, while browsing social media; he does what he wants to do. He doesn’t let the mind to divert his attention here and there.
Energy flows where attention goes. Watch a funny video for 3 minutes, you will laugh. Watch a nude video for 3 minutes; you know well where your energy flows.
When any irrelevant thoughts or external sensory inputs try to engage you unconsciously, you can’t realize all the time when your attention wanders away.
When you practice observing how and where your thoughts flow when you are free, one day you will find that when attention wanders away, you will get an automatic notification, “Hey your attention is just hijacked by an unconscious thought.”
Mindfulness is practice. It is the state of being conscious of what you do.
You can’t do anything effectively without mindfulness. When you are working on project X, and thinking about project Y, can you perform effectively?
Most of the humans fail to understand what the multitasking is and which in turn causes to practice distraction. Multitasking is a practice of doing things according to time slots and priorities. In fact, it is not about doing all the things at the same time.
Improving attention and engaging yourself are the keys to practice mindfulness. As I mentioned earlier, when you don’t engage the mind, the mind is always ready to engage you unconsciously.
You should also read and understand the engaged state of mind or the habit of being mindful.
Successful people have a habit to make habits. Habits are the automatic function of our brain.
Automatic actions save time and energy. For example, when you were learning to type in your desktop keyboard, you know how much time you spent to type 100 words. But, do you still take the same amount of time? I think no.
You have to make habits of improving attention, asking questions yourself, and engaging yourself consciously to master your mind. Also, don’t forget to make habits of skills relevant to you.
Habits are the like the default software programs of our mind. In a study published in the European Journal of Social Psychology, Lally and her research team concluded that it takes 66 days on average to make habits. However, cognitive behavior, circumstances, and personality can make the required time longer or shorter.
Meditation is not about physical exercise; it is a cognitive exercise to let you realize how your attention wanders away and how to control the mind.
You can meditate anywhere anytime. Just focus on the rhythm of your breath, observe the sensation of breath for at least 3 minutes a day. And when you lose the focus from the rhythm of breath, bring it back. That’s how you can improve attention.
You can also try Headspace; this is one of the best apps for meditation.
Invest in Yourself
This is the final word; you have to recall it whenever your attention wanders away or the irrelevant thoughts hijack your mind.
Your earning can increase when you focus on learning. Remember that we all have 24 hours a day and 365 days a year. And it’s your choice, what you want to be.
You should also learn one thing from a lion; a lion never does anything half-heartedly. It would kill a rabbit or attack an elephant with its full ferocity.
I would like to suggest you to read & understand the best life coaching book, the “Bhagavad Gita.”
For most of the people, this book is a collection of hymns to remember & sing and they think that it is a religious book. Why? As I mentioned earlier, most of the people fail to have deductive thinking, hypothetical thinking, and metacognition.
And for you, this book is for self- understanding. Also, don’t forget to understand the book in your own language, teach yourself, and start asking questions to yourself while reading.
Here is one of the best quotes on our mind,
“For him who has conquered the mind, the mind is the best of friends; but for one who failed to do so, his mind will remain the greatest enemy.”- Chapter 6, Text 6- Bhagavad Gita
Download the eBook, save papers-save trees, and start identifying how to master your mind.
Ashim, the Founder of MindWiper, loves to learn, share, and educate various dimensions of life skills development. After graduating with an engineering degree, he worked with major ICT industries in India and finally he followed his dream to integrate technology for Cognitive Skills & Life Skills Development.