Find Your Focus: Own Your Attention in 12 Minutes a Day

Our ability to pay attention is unreliable when we’re under stress. In her new book Peak Mind, neuroscientist Amishi Jha explores cutting-edge research on elite soldiers revealing how mindfulness training protects our attentional resources, even in the most high-stress scenarios imaginable.

Illustrations by Roy Scott

You are missing 50% of your life. And you’re not alone: Everyone is. I say this confidently, even without knowing who you are, or how your brain might be different from the last one we tested in my lab at the University of Miami, where I research the science of attention and teach cognitive neuroscience courses.

Over the course of my career as a brain scientist, I’ve seen certain universal patterns in the way all of our brains function—both how powerfully they can focus, and how extraordinarily vulnerable they are to distraction—no matter who you are or what you do. I’ve had the opportunity to peek inside the living human brain, and I know that at any given moment, there’s a high probability that your mind just isn’t here. Instead, you’re planning for the next item on your to-do list. You’re ruminating on something that’s been bothering you, a worry or a regret. You’re thinking about something that could happen tomorrow, or the next day, or never. Any way you slice it, you’re not here, experiencing your life. You’re somewhere else.

Mental time travel is one of the biggest culprits degrading our attention. We do it all the time.…

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We’re All Biased. Here’s How Meditation May Help—Painting of two hands painted in many colors coming together from left and right with their fingers interlocking in the middle over a red background.
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We’re All Biased. Here’s How Meditation May Help. 

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  • November 4, 2021
About the author

Amishi Jha

Amishi Jha is a neuroscientist and Professor of Psychology at the University of Miami and author of a forthcoming book Peak Mind (2021, Harper One) on the science of attention. Her research focuses on the brain bases of attention, working memory, and mindfulness-based training. With grants from the US Department of Defense and several private foundations, her current projects investigate how to best promote resilience in high stress cohorts using contemplative/mind training techniques that strengthen the brain’s attention networks. She was selected as a Science and Public Leadership Fellow by PopTech, and serves on editorial review boards of Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, Frontiers in Cognitive Science, and Frontiers in Psychology.