Spoiler: Your brain is going to do everything in its fucking power to make sure you don’t finish this. Your brain is not your friend. It’s absolutely a bastard. Imagine your brain gets dressed in the morning and calls himself Brain. He’s playing one of those Whack-A-Mole machines and your face keeps popping out of the same goddamn hole while Brain smashes it with a mallet over and over laughing manically.


That’s what it’s like trying to stay focused in 2016. Your brain is going to fight you the entire time. In case of fire, don’t break the glass, just give yourself permission to read to the fucking bottom.

Give me 5 minutes and I’ll teach you how to get back on good terms with Brain. Hell, you guys might even become friends. Clock starts now. Leggo.


Part One: The Question.

This isn’t written for the people who have their shit together. This is for the people whose idea of together is eating a home cooked meal for once. The people who smile in the mirror when by some miracle their socks match that morning or when they manage to wake up on time and not snooze their alarm seven times in a row.

This is for the people who feel like their brain is an ass-kicking, ball-busting, sadistically swirling vortex of thoughts they are never in control of.

Most of the time, you feel like you’re behind the wheel of a car, screaming at the top of your lungs, driving at a speed that would make Paul Walker blush, despite the fact nobody ever took the time teach you how to drive sensibly.

Huh, I guess metaphorical you and Paul Walker have something in common.

So. How the hell do you make Brain shut up in a world of distractions, noise, Facebook and Netflix?


Part Two: The Answer.

A lot of people preach meditation. I’m one of them. But here’s the thing:

Try meditation first and you’re probably going to fail. Why? Because I know you. I AM you. Let me put it in terms your Netflix-raped brain can understand:

“Would you try to multiply before you can add? No.” — Not Yoda.

Meditation implies a destination. Nirvana. A clear mind. Something you can’t even conceptualise yet. So fuck that noise for a second.

Getting your brain to shut up is about two things:

  1. Remembering you are the Thinker, not the thought. (Capital and lowercase t’s intended.)
  2. Actually focusing for once.

That’s it. That’s all there is. If you want to read more on those concepts, I’m happy to answer your questions in the comments below but right now your attention is about to break (Brain is getting his mallet ready) so I need to give you your next hit of dopamine before your phone buzzes.


Part Three: The Method. (60% of The Time it Works Everytime. 100% of The Time Your Brain is Still a Fucking Bastard.)

Repeat this every day and you’re going to win. Don’t do it and this becomes just another five minutes you wasted on yourself before you settled down to watch five episodes of Forensic Files in a row — because goddammit life is hard and you’ve earned it.

Note: Make this method yours. Take what I do and make it work for you. That’s the secret to making anything work. Make it work for yourself first.

  1. This is the part where we shout a collective ‘Fuck you!’ at our brains and decide we are the THINKER not the THOUGHT. We aren’t the sadness, the fear, the rushing thoughts — we are the soul/thing/person/whatever-the-hell-we-are that’s THINKING them. Take a deep breath, step back from whatever it is that’s got you frazzled and close your eyes. Don’t set a timer. To set a timer you have to open your phone. Just close your eyes, trust me.
  2. Smile. This is going to be fun. Seriously fun. So smile. Smile like you just saw all your presents under the tree. Whatever the best thing you can imagine is. Smile at that. Hardwire your brain to expect a smile every time you do this and you’ll get a shiver at the back of your neck and a chill down your spine. It probably just happened. If it didn’t, smile at the fact it didn’t and smile bigger next time.
  3. With your eyes closed, you’re ready to start. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Slowly. Like, fucking slow. You never breathe like this so pay attention to how it feels. It feels awesome. Feel your body. Take a mental note of everything that’s happening. Focus on the scrumptious physical sensation of feeling and nothing more.
  4. Now we’re going to settle on your Anchor. This is the thing that’s going to bring you back when you get lost. I have three different things I use, but I suggest choosing whatever works for you.
    -Imagine the color Black.
    -Imagine the color White.
    -Focus on your breathing.
  5. Literally breathe in and out in a slow consistent rhythm, always focusing on your Anchor. The biggest secret to all of this is? Remember: THERE IS NO OBJECTIVE. You aren’t trying to accomplish anything. By simply attempting to concentrate, you are concentrating. You are winning if you’re doing it. You’ve already won. So smile for fuck’s sake.
  6. Your thoughts are going to wander. That’s fine. Just shrug it off and focus on getting back to your Anchor. You’ll find you will either process your thoughts, ignore them , fight them or run away from them — whatever you need to do to make your way back home. It’s personal and it’s different for everyone. Just try and make your way back to whatever it is you’re holding in your mind.
  7. Repeat this over and over. Go for as long as you feel you can. Open your eyes, look in the mirror and high five yourself because you just manged to concentrate longer than you have in a really long time.

Guess what? You just meditated. And if you do it over and over again, thanks to the concept of neuroplasticity (Google this) your brain is going to rewire itself to make THIS a default habit.

The real secret to meditating or focusing? Sitting down enough fucking times that it becomes a part of your day.

Pro tip: When it’s noisy, or when you’re going insane, when your head is pounding, your heart is rushing — those aren’t the times to say: “I can’t do this now.”

That is absolutely when you just sit down and do it. Put in the work. Show up.

Fuck you Brain. We won this round.

If you read this far, I wrote this for you.

Love,

James