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Attention Deficit

Psychologists from Harvard University have found that people spend up to 47% of their waking hours thinking about something other than whatever they are doing at the time. A short attention span is one of the scourges of the modern age, whether you want to call it apathy, disengagement, or, to use the technical term for a brain on autopilot, “default mode network”

Whatever the case, it’s clear that we need something to help us focus – something that will also ease tension and control the mood swings that are an inevitable result of an undisciplined mind. Just a general awareness of the problem is not enough, because a scattered brain is not easily able to get itself under control. Strange as it may sound, we need something that can mediate between the brain and the mind.

The most successful technique to date may be a device that teaches the brain to monitor itself.

Biofeedback devices have been around for a long time. They monitor and display the body’s internal state, such as heartbeat and blood pressure, and in time the person learns how to regulate them on his own. Recently, researchers have developed a novel device that looks like a headband, and converts brain waves into sound waves. When the brain is calm, it produces a sound like a soft wind. When the brain is agitated or distracted, the sound waves become stormy and turbulent.

Using this device makes it easier for people to learn to relax the brain through meditation, deep breathing or other techniques. The ultimate “control” is achieved when we are able to silence the brain entirely and enter into a state of deep relaxation.

However, according to the mystical teachings of the Torah, turning off the brain is simply not possible. The only way to gain control over our wandering thoughts is to replace the unwanted thought with a better one. In addition to the personal benefit one derives from this, good thoughts are also an effective technique for improving the situation itself. Our thoughts can create a new and positive reality. Positive thinking has a cumulative effect: the more we work on it the more we strengthen the habit and can learn to bring a joyous attitude to any circumstance.

The Lubavitcher Rebbe has stressed many times the need to study Torah sources on the topics of Moshiach and Redemption, as a way to transition into life into the Messianic era. There is a statement of our sages that Moshiach will come when we are distracted, when we are not paying attention. The Rebbe has given his “spin” on this statement – Moshiach will come when we are so permeated with Moshiach that his coming will not evoke any surprise at all.



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