Prayer For Focus And Productivity
How Prayer and Meditation Changes Your Brain?
Prayer and meditation have been around for ages, and in today’s world, both practices play an important role in our lives where they help in relieving stress, keep our mind calm, and help us increase our spiritual awareness. What is more interesting is that scientists are attempting to understand the spiritual experience and what happens in our brains and bodies when we connect with the divine through prayer and meditation.
The study of this subject is called “neurotheology”, and although it is new, scientists have made a profound discovery. They discovered that when people are praying or spending time in meditation, their brain patterns are different.
Study Shows How Prayer and Meditation Change Our Brain Activity
The Director of Research at the Myrna Brind Center for Integrative Medicine, Dr. Andrew Newberg, who has studied the neuroscientific effect of religious and spiritual experiences for decades, says that prayer and meditation did, in fact, changes our brains.
In one of Newberg’s experiment, he asks Mc Dermott, a United Methodist minister to enter a darkened room and asks the minister to pray for someone else. And then Dr. Newberg injects the minister with a radioactive dye to show the blood flow to his brain.
The dye slowly migrates to the parts of the brain where the blood flows is the strongest. After about twenty minutes when McDermott has gone into the highly focused state, the image from the computer screen shows increased activity in the frontal lobes and the language area of the brain.
This is the part of the brain that activates during the conversation.Therefore, Dr. Newberg comes to believe that when people are praying or meditating, the activity is similar to having a conversation with someone. He says, “When we study Buddhist meditation where they are visualizing something, we might expect to see a change or increased activity in the visual part of the brain.”
After the incident, Dr. Newberg continues and did the same experiment with Michael Baime, a doctor of the University of Pennsylvania and a Tibetan Buddhist who has meditated for at least an hour a day for the past 40 years. And guess what, Dr. Newberg found the same brain activity increased pattern in the frontal lobe.
Focusing Affects Your Brain and Your Reality
Now you have learned that prayer and meditation did affect our brain activity, what should you do with prayer or meditation with your life? Dr. Newberg says, “The more you focus on something — whether that’s math or auto racing or football or God — the more that becomes your reality, the more it becomes written into the neural connections of your brain.”
When we focus on a certain thought and when visualize a certain thing in our mind, we tend to increase the brain activity in that particular area. And because our brain cannot differentiate between what is real and what is imagined, our brain tends to create neural connections to make body feels that way.
For example, try to close your eyes and imagine you pick a big yellow lemon from your kitchen. You then pick a knife and cut the lemon into half. See the picture vividly in your mind and feel the texture of lemon.
Now, visualize that you take one half of the lemon and then squeeze the juices into your mouth. If you vividly picture this practice, you will have more saliva in your mouth. Although this is only happening in your mind, your mind makes it real.
And thus, your body will create the feeling and follow what your brain tells it to do.
Visualization Improves Your Skills
Visualization is one of the most powerful mental rehearsal techniques in the sports industry. Many years ago, researchers conducted a study on a group of basketball players. The researcher divided the basketball players into three groups and tested their free throws skill.
The first group practiced free throws every day for an hour. The second group just visualized themselves practicing the free throw in their minds. And the third group did nothing.
After thirty days, the researcher discovered that the third group did not improve, which was expected. The first group that went through the actual training improved their free throw skill by 24%.And to the researcher’s astonishment, the second group who train through visualization improved their skill by 23%, without even touching the ball.
Visualization is a practice that focused your thoughts on something that you desire. The same goes for prayer and meditation. When you pray for something, you are actually focusing your thoughts on it, and this is why Dr. Newberg says that the more you focus on something, the more it can become your reality.
The Importance of Prayer and Meditation in Your Daily Life
It has been proven that prayer and meditation can directly influence our brain activity and neural patterns, hence, it is extremely important to understand and make good use of these two powerful practices that can shape your life and destiny.
First, studies have found that prayer and meditation are able to create calmness within ourselves. We feel calm when we believe that there is a higher power to support and help us and to give us guidance with hope. Not only that, prayer and meditation also relieve our stress and make us feel happy, grateful, and elevate our mood.
Furthermore, when you pray and meditate, you can choose to concentrate your thoughts on something that you want in your life. Wherever the focus goes, energy flows.
When you focus your thoughts on a certain area of life where you want to improve and become better, it will eventually become your reality because you are changing your thoughts on a subconscious level.
This is why the Law of Attraction works and how prayer and meditation play a vital role in your life.
Richard Davidson, a neuroscientist says that you can change your brain with experience and training, just exercising to your muscle. He says, “You can sculpt your brain just as you’d sculpt your muscles if you went to the gym.
Our brains are continuously being sculpted, whether you it or not, wittingly or unwittingly.
” And since you are going to condition your brain in a certain way, you can choose to consciously practice your brain for what you want by praying and meditating for a better life.
Does Prayer or Meditation Help with Personal Finance?
When people are struggling in life, they often turn to prayer and meditation to help them to deal with those problems. People who believe in God often pray to their maker, while those who have other theistic views might choose to meditate to bring them spiritual guidance. Some people choose to do both.
Regardless of whether you believe someone is listening to your prayer or whether you’re simply meditating for the purpose of your own personal focus and peace of mind, I believe that prayer and meditation can actually help. Here’s how.
First, meditation and focused prayer have health benefits. These practices raise our tolerance of common aches and pains.
These practices thicken the prefrontal cortex, strengthening our mental acuity. It lowers the risk of heart disease, lowers blood pressure, and strengthens the immune system.
Those things all result in less productivity lost and lower health care expenses.
Most importantly, meditation and focused prayer can reduce stress. The amygdala is the part of our brains that is directly altered by stress and thickens when we’re feeling continuous stress. Prayer and meditation have been shown to reduce the thickness of the amygdala.
Second, meditation and focused prayer provides us with an opportunity to mentally focus on what we need to change in our lives. Regardless of whether we’re focused on financial success or any other aspect of our life, both prayer and meditation give us a chance to mentally focus on those things.Most of the well-established practices for focused prayer and meditation revolve around focusing deeply on the topic at hand. Sure, you can “meditate” by closing your eyes for a minute or you can “pray” by thoughtlessly reciting an old memorized item, but neither one really helps on a deep level.
Third, the mental focus provided by focused prayer and meditation carries over into the rest of your life. The thing that you focus on during your meditation and prayer silently becomes more important in your life and you tend to make better decisions in those areas, consciously or otherwise.
If you do it for a week or two, you’ll start slowly noticing a real permanent shift in your mindset in the areas you were focusing on. Keep going with it and you’ll see the benefits spreading throughout your life.
I’ve witnessed this phenomenon countless times in my own life. Time spent meditating or praying on something causes me to subtly make better decisions in that area in my life. Those better decisions lead to better results. Those better results essentially appear as a positive outcome to that prayer or meditation.
How to Meditate or Pray in a Focused Way
For me, there is little functional difference between prayer and meditation. Both simply revolve around focusing on some specific aspect of your life, usually in the form of some central word or phrase or short poem, but it can be other things. The biggest difference between the two comes from whether you are calling out to a higher power, which is really up to you.
When I do this, I usually decide in advance that I want to focus on something specific. I usually try to find some aspect of my life that I wish I was doing better than I currently am.
Maybe I want to be a better parent. Maybe I want to make better financial decisions. Maybe I want to improve my financial shape. Maybe I want to be a better husband. Maybe I want to get in better physical shape.
Maybe I want to be a better friend.
Whatever the focus, I think of a way to describe the change I want to see in myself. Sometimes, it’s a simple sentence. At other times, it might be longer – a paragraph or two in length. Sometimes I’ll write these things myself; at other times, I’ll find pre-written ones; at still other times, I’ll do them completely off the top of my head.
Then, I spend some time quietly focusing on that phrase or sentence or paragraph that I’ve chosen. I close my eyes, attempt to relax, and run through the text in my head, usually a word or a phrase at a time.
I focus on the word and phrase, repeating it and turning it over in my mind and think about what it really means to me and how I’m thankful for what I have and what improvements I want to implement regarding that piece.
I’ll go through the text, then repeat back through it a time or two, usually up to about fifteen minutes or so.That’s it! I get up and go about the rest of my day, usually feeling calmer and happier.
For those of you who would an example of a meditation (one that doesn’t call out to a higher power) and a prayer (one that does) for personal finance success, here they are. I’ve chosen a short and long version of each one.
A Short Meditation for Financial Success and Prosperity
This is a short meditation I wrote myself. Focus on each key word – choose, moderation, discipline, spirituality, and abundance.
I choose to live a life of moderation, discipline, and spirituality. My life is prosperous, and moderation, discipline, and spirituality will lead me to greater abundance.
A Longer Meditation for Financial Success and Prosperity
This is a modified version of this meditation for when you’re stressing about money found at MindBodyGreen.
It is in giving that we receive. As we sow abundantly, we reap abundantly.
My life is blessed with so much abundance, so much prosperity, so much success.
As I give and share generously and abundantly, my life is blessed with great prosperity. I am so blessed with this tremendous prosperity.
I choose to live a life of moderation, discipline and spirituality.
I am healthy and very happy. I am enjoying every moment of my life.
May every person, every being be blessed with good health, happiness, prosperity and spirituality.
With thanks and in full faith. So be it.
A Short Prayer for Financial Success and Prosperity
This is a short prayer I wrote myself. Recite it slowly in your mind or aloud, as you feel is appropriate.
Dear God, thank you so much for the abundance I already have. Help me to be free of anxiety and stress and to have the awareness I need to make better money decisions. Amen.
A Longer Prayer for Financial Success and Prosperity
This is a modified version of a prayer for financial success found at BeliefNet.
I ask that you remove my worries, anxieties, and fears about money, and replace them with faith.
I ask you to help me understand my purpose in life and to act on that purpose with courage and strength. I know that prosperity will come, in part, by doing work I love. Please help me use my skills and knowledge to be of service in the world.
I ask you for the strength I need to make difficult financial choices, to change my daily money decisions, and to get rid of my debts and build for my future.
I ask you to help me release all negative thoughts about money, and know that prosperity is my true state.
I know and trust that my debts will be paid and money will flow into my life. I have only to look to nature to see proof of the abundance you provide.
I commit to being grateful for all that I now have in my life.
Thank you, God.
My perspective, having used both prayer and meditation in my life, is that they often have a similar effect on the mind and body. I usually feel far more relaxed after prayer or meditation, for example, and my stress level usually falls quite a bit. I usually find that I follow prayer and meditation with better decisions in the short term.
More than that, when this practice is a part of my life on a regular basis, a calmer state of mind and somewhat better decisions seem to come utterly naturally. I firmly believe that a regular practice of meditation or prayer (depending on your spiritual beliefs or preferred practice) can do a lot to improve your mindset that can really help your financial state.
I personally attribute this practice as playing a major role in my ability to turn my spending habits around, which led directly to our family’s financial turnaround. This practice went a long way toward convincing me that I didn’t really need a lot of the stuff I was spending my money on, as it forced me to really consider what I was doing and what the long-term cost is.This practice is a daily part of my life today. A day isn’t complete if I don’t spend some time focusing directly on a challenging part of my life and seek help to change them. I hope that it can play a similarly powerful role in your life, too.
20 Must Read Books on Personal Productivity and Focus
We all desire to be better at everything that we do. We want to work harder, play better and even love deeper. One way to do this is to increase your focus.
By doing so, we are able to have more attention on our work and produce better quality results. Another way to perform at a higher level is to be more productive. This allows us to complete much more work in a shorter period of time.
How can we achieve both of these? Here are 20 books that will teach you how to enhance your focus and productivity.
Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World
Many of us find ourselves in a situation where we sit down to work and then get totally distracted by factors such as social media, our emails, applications or even games. This prevents us from working effectively.
Cal Newport indicates how to work without getting distracted in his book, Deep Work. The book has direct and no nonesense guidelines on how one can maximize their cognitive ability and improve their focus.
The tips are direct and delivered in a no nonesense method.
The 80/20 Principle: The Secret to Achieving More with Less
According to the Pareto Principle, 20% of the efforts we make drive 80% of our results. Written by Richard Koch, the 80/20 principle explains this principle in detail.
This book shows us how to produce high quality results in a short period of time. It shows you how to maximize your productivity even when you have few resources.
By focusing on exactly what you are good at and outsourcing the rest, you can maximize how productive you are and transform your output for the better.
Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating
With a very interesting title, this book shows us how to maximize our productivity. Written by Brian Tracy, it is an entertaining yet highly educative read. It has 21 different strategies to maximize your output. The most outstanding of these is that you should begin your day by eating your frog.
This is the most important task of your day. This is the one that has the most positive effect on your life. Brian encourages us to complete thus task with no hesitation because if you had to eat a frog, it wouldn't be a good idea to stare at it for too long.
Other concepts in the book include single tasking and the rule of forced efficiency.
The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right
The professionals of today are faced by so many tasks on a daily basis. These tasks can overwhelm them. The results of being too overwhelmed include making errors.
The author indicates that some of these errors can cause losses even in terms of life.
Written by Atul Gawande, the Checklist Manifesto shows us how to maximize our focus by creating checklists of the tasks that we have to do and then following them. This book can help you to maximize your focus and promote efficiency.
The Effective Executive: The Definitive Guide to Getting
Highly recommended for working professionals, this book is the ultimate guideline on how to be productive.
Written by Peter Drucker, the book shows professionals how to do what other people overlook and also avoiding the work that is not productive. He also encourages professionals to outsource the tasks that are not essential to business processes.
Peter goes on to support results over effort. In addition to that, he shows you how to create a proper mindstate for the generation of results.
The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up
Author Marie Kondo has come up with a method of living that is known as KonMari. In her method, you simply look at everything you own and vet it. Does it bring you joy or not. If it does, keep it.
Otherwise, you throw it away no matter what it costs or who gave it to you. In her best selling book, Marie indicates that this will transform your life and make your mental and emotional space better.
In this way, you can promote your focus by cleaning up your working space.
Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity
Do you want and in-depth method of getting rid of all the tasks that overwhelm you currently? This is normally done through promoting productivity. David Allen is the author of this book and he helps you to get your tasks done effectively and in time. He writes the book one major concept.
Every job has its own special place and time. The key is knowing where and how to do each one. The book has three sections that give you an overview, explain the process and then give you the benefits of the process.
David is a legitimate coach for productivity today and his book is a reliable guideline.
The Power of Less: The Fine Art of Limiting Yourself to the Essential…in Business and in Life
To maximize your focus in anything, the main activity that you should conduct is to ensure that you deal with only the essentials. This principle can be applied in both business and life.
many other self help books, this one is divided into two main sections. The first one shows you how to simplify your life and set limits. After that, the second one shows you how to manage the tasks that you have chosen.
By giving you gems on how to get organized in effective, simple guidelines.
The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results
The key to maximum productivity is to identify a task and then pursue it relentlessly. In this book, the author shows us how to do exactly this. There is only one way to know your true potential.
This is by picking one thing and going full force on it. This book shows you how to do this. The main point is to get rid of all the distractions that could be plaguing you.
After you do this, you can now succeed in your family or professional life.
Do the Work: Overcome Resistance and Get Your Own Way
No matter how many books on productivity you read, it all comes down to serious work. Many people are unable to achieve their true potential because they are not willing to do the hard work.
Author Steven Pressfield indicates that it is not about seeking better ideas or getting more time. It is all about getting past the initial resistance and staying committed to a specific path of action.
Are you currently handling a major project and you want to become more productive in it? This is the book to read.
The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People
Written by Stephen Covey, this is a book that can help you to become exceptionally focused in your work. This results in being effective at what you do. Sought by presidents, CEOs and even students, this book helps you to declutter your life and develop efficiency. By helping you to develop a methodology to your activities, this book assists you to focus and excel.
How to Think Leonardo da Vinci: Seven Steps to Genius Every Day
Leonardo Da Vinci is most famous for painting the Mona Lisa. He is also known for his inventions and genius level knowledge. He is well known for having hundreds of inventions and planned projects. How did he do it all? Da Vinci mastered the art of productivity. If you want to be as productive as he was, this book by Michael Gelb is an excellent read.
The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business
Habits are the recurrent behaviors that we engage in on a daily basis. Some of them are beneficial and others are negative. This book looks at what they are, how we make them and how to change them. In the first section, you get to learn how to change your habits by focusing on them and making the changes. The book is written by Charles Duhigg and emphasizes focus.
Getting Results the Agile Way: a Personal Results System for Life and Work
Written by J.D. Meyer, this book is all about productivity. It shows you how to get results instead of focusing on the activities or processes involved. It shows readers how to set goals that are flexible and the tasks that are involved. By changing your perspective on work, the book helps you to be oriented on the final products instead of the process.
The Power of Full Engagement: Managing Energy, Not Time, Is the Key to High Performance and Personal Renewal
This book has been written after extensive research on athletes and performers. The authors observed that athletes perform best when some factors in their lives are well controlled.
For example, professional athletes normally manage their energy on a daily basis. In this way, they stay highly productive.
Not only does this book show you how to increase your productivity, it shows you how to maintain high energy throughout your daily life.
The Willpower Instinct: How Self Control Works
By using conscious self control, you can boost your focus on daily tasks. You can also actually promote your health, business and other responsibilities in your own life. The author is known as McGonigal and they indicate that willpower can be used to promote one's focus in daily activity. The book contains guidelines about how you can increase your focus.
The Power of Story: Change Your Story, Change Your Destiny
This book shows you how to promote and enhance your productivity. It shows you how to identify your mission in life and stay motivated to pursue it. The guidelines in this book are straightforward and easy to apply in life. The principles given by Jim Loehr in this book are ideal for boosting your productivity and ensuring your life story is one of success.
Ready for Anything: 52 Productivity Principles for Getting Things Done
Written by David Allen, this book is a collection of stories of wisdom that indicate how you can increase your productivity. The book indicates the activities that you need to engage in for ypu to maintain focus on your life and work for the purpose of success. It is a sequel for another book by the same author that is known as Getting Things Done.
The Now Habit: a Strategic Program to Avoid Procrastination and Enjoying Guilt-Free Play
Procrastination is one of the most common negative habits that we deal with today. This Habit is well known to be a major time waster. It prevents us from focusing on the key activities that we should engage in every day. This book has tips and tools that you can use to get rid of this habit. With this in check, you can focus better on the activities that you have planned for your day.
Thinking Fast and Slow
Last but not least is this amazing book, the author who's a very accomplished psychologist shares with us all of the secrets of our minds.
Throughout this book you'll learn about the two “systems” that we all live with in our minds. You'll literally be able to take back control of your decisions and behaviors.
This one is a highly suggested read for anyone who's interested in taking back control over his/her powerful mind.
The Important Take Away
If you can increase your productivity and your focus, you can achieve literally anything you desire. The list above contains books that can help you to be as productive as you can. read them and learn how to get closer to your goals.
images via Amazon
55 Productivity Quotes For Work, Life and Making the Most of You
Productivity quotes on Everyday Power Blog. Enjoy!!
1.) “You can’t get much done in life if you only work on days when you feel good.”
― Jerry West
2.) “Everyday that I procrastinate, everyday that I sit stagnant in fear, everyday that I fail to better myself, someone else out there with the same goals and dreams as me is doing the exact opposite.” ― Noel DeJesus
3.) “The true price of anything you do is the amount of time you exchange for it.”
― Henry David Thoreau
3.) “Sometimes the biggest gain in productive energy will come from cleaning the cobwebs, dealing with old business, and clearing the desks—cutting loose debris that’s impeding forward motion.” ― David Allen
4.) “It’s not always that we need to do more but rather that we need to focus on less.”
― Nathan W. Morris
5.) “It is not enought to be busy, so are the ants. The question is: What are we busy about?”
― Henry David Thoreau
6.) The perfect is the enemy of the good. – Voltaire
Productivity Quotes For Work, Life and Making the Most of You
7.) There is no substitute for hard work. – Thomas A. Edison
8.) The least productive people are usually the ones who are most in favor of holding meetings. – Thomas Sowell
9.) No matter how great the talent or efforts, some things just take time. You can’t produce a baby in one month by getting nine women pregnant. – Warren Buffett
10.) If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you’ll never get it done. – Bruce Lee
11.) Nothing is less productive than to make more efficient what should not be done at all. – Peter Drucker
12.) If you commit to giving more time than you have to spend, you will constantly be running from time debt collectors. – Elizabeth Grace Saunders
13.) There is no waste in the world that equals the waste from needless, ill-directed, and ineffective motions. – Frank Bunker Gilbreth, Sr.
14.) Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work. – Stephen King
15.) My goal is no longer to get more done, but rather to have less to do. – Francine Jay
16.) “If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you’ll never get it done.” ― Bruce Lee17.) “As long as I am breathing, in my eyes, I am just beginning.” ― Criss Jami, Killosophy
18.) “Whenever you are asked if you can do a job, tell ’em, ‘Certainly I can!’ Then get busy and find out how to do it.” ― Theodore Roosevelt
19.) “Your mind is for having ideas, not holding them.” ― David Allen
5 strategies to improve your productivity and focus
One the biggest contributor to productivity is the ability to focus; that is, the ability to narrow down our attention on something.
Focusing helps us keep our eyes on the goal. It’s a key to clarity, efficiency and concentration.
The problem is, attention is a limited resource and distractions are everywhere.
Whether we find ourselves pulled away by a talkative coworker, a sugar fix, digital media, or the new Netflix hit, we have more competing for our attention than ever before.
We’re so busy multitasking trying to accomplish things, people everywhere are experiencing an epidemic of overwhelm. For most of us, anchoring our attention has become a daily challenge.
Today we’re exploring the 5 steps you can take to dramatically improve your focus by learning how to enhance the awareness of your habits and ultimately be more productive with your time.
We’ll explore ways to prioritize, how to resist the pull of digital distraction, and prevent informational overload. And finally, we’ll discuss the benefit of slowing down and doing one thing at a time.
Develop mindful awareness of your habits
The most important step of all is developing an awareness of your habits and tendencies. If you can heighten your awareness of your tendencies and practice moment-to-moment awareness through the day, you’ll be distracted less often and have a much better chance of returning to your focus sooner.
Take a moment to review the things that distract you most frequently through the day.
Social media, television, talkative coworkers or family members, food, shopping, email or the phone. Perhaps it’s losing track of what you’re doing because you’re attempting too much at once, organizing your desk or your own mind, getting lost in daydreams.
The one thing all these distractions have in common is they’re a diversion from our priorities.
In order to tame these distractions we need to first be aware of what most easily captures our attention. And each time we notice we’ve been distracted and have drifted away, we make an effort to stop, and bring ourselves back.
When you find yourself distracted, your attention is diverted, so simply pause in awareness, and come back.
For today, simply notice when you’re distracted. You don’t have to do anything about it yet. Just try strengthening the quality of noticing. That’s the first step.
Be mindful of your priorities
Distractions are everywhere and they take a heavy toll on levels of productivity.
Think of it this way: when you allow yourself to be distracted, you're giving things that are of low importance, undue attention.
Therefore, one of the best places to start when making efforts to strengthen your focus is to be mindful of your priorities.
Every morning when you start the day or sit down to work, one your first tasks should be clarifying what you want to focus on.Start by reviewing the tasks on your to-do list. If you have a list of ten, select one single priority from that list. Even if there several tasks of equal importance, just select one.
Once you have that single priority in mind get to work. Put aside everything else on your list, clear away all distractions, silence your phone and focus on that one priority.
When your priorities are crystal clear there’s less of a chance of being diverted from them.
Limit digital distractions
In the digital age of distraction, we have more competing for our attention than ever before.
While the Internet has produced boundless benefits, there are unattended consequences of the digital revolution. One of which, is that the technologies we use every day are extremely addictive.
Whether it’s the lure of , the pull of the inbox, or the seduction of a juicy headline, there are constant distractions vying for our attention.
Just think about how easy it is to get lost in a simple Google search. Millions of results pop up in our browser, our curiosity gets the best of us and we end up reading about an entirely different topic.
We get lost in irrelevant blogs and unrelated You Tube videos. Our phone has become another limb, always connected to us, sometimes through the night so we don’t miss a text or email.
We drop everything to stay up to date on social media – replying to posts, uploading photos and staying connected.
And even though all these distractions pull us away from what we should be doing, we keep clicking over and over.Distractions arise frequently and in order to remain focused on priorities, the key is to be aware of distractions as they arise, noticing their pull and then coming back to our point of focus.