Keeping Focus

Keeping Focus

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Keeping Focus

I read a lot. One of my biggest challenges when doing so is staying awake. It doesn’t matter how interesting the topic or how good the writing, I just tend to get sleepy when I read.

I want to figure out a solution.

I’ve recently switched my meditation practice to more of a concentration focus through the practice of labeling various phenomena as they enter my stream of consciousness. I keep it simple by just focusing on verbs: seeing, seeing, hearing, seeing, thinking, planning, feeling, etc. I’d not really had troubles with drowsiness during meditation before, so it surprised me to notice that I needed to add “dreaming” as one of my labels.

What I’ve noticed while meditating is that right before my head bobs in drowsiness, I experience a little rush of highly discursive thoughts. They’re so discursive, in fact, that I began to see them as the onset of a dreaming state — and it was originating right there in the transition from waking state to sleeping state.

After experiencing this little insight, I’ve started noticing that this is similar to what’s happening when I drift off while reading. My mind loses focus, discursive thoughts drift in, and before I know it I’m having to reread sentences and then whole paragraphs as I attempt to regain focus.

I wish I could say that I’ve solved the problem. I have not. But now I have new insight into the nature of the problem, and I think that’s the first step.

My focus on alertness in reading right now is part of an overall effort in concentration. The new meditation practice is part of that. Another part of that was reading David Amerland’s excellent book, The Sniper Mind. In it, you’ll find a couple tricks that snipers use to maintain an alert state under much more grueling situations than sitting in a chair in one’s living room reading a book.

I will do a more in-depth write-up of my thoughts on the book later, but what’s worth noting here is just how much of it is focused on focusing mental energy. In fact, that really is what the book is about and it’s an excellent read. It’s so cool to see one of our own here on G+ with what looks like it could be a breakaway book. And don’t let the focus on snipers dissuade you if that’s not your particular thing. It wasn’t mine, but because it was David I jumped at the chance to get an early copy of the book. The stories of the snipers are really engaging and provide a powerful backdrop for learning about mental concentration and just how amazing the human mind truly is. I recommend it.

The Sniper Mind goes on sale Nov 7, but you can pre-order your copy here (and in the process help nudge Amazon into realizing this will be a popular book):


  1. I read a thing recently that said that that pre-sleep state is very powerful and helpful in processing ideas and creativity, so you might want to just let it flow.

  2. Yes, Olman Feelyus, that’s the hypnagogic state, and I’ve noticed in my meditations that there have been some interesting, if rather random, insights in those little interludes.

  3. I’m sure this is nothing new for you, but I find that controlling my breathing is key to staying wakeful. (That is, do not slow down into a sleep-breathing rhythm)

  4. Gideon Rosenblatt If I’m not mistaken that is the point where one is open to suggestion (Hypnosis ) as well as creativity and insight.

  5. “I read a lot. One of my biggest challenges when doing so is staying awake. It doesn’t matter how interesting the topic or how good the writing, I just tend to get sleepy when I read. “

    You too Huh…

    Thanks for this!

  6. Gideon Rosenblatt​ such a lovely cheerful post! I an an avid reader myself not so much as my father though. I find it interesting to get into the subject or author’s mind to guess project the future events. Sometimes it’s just hard to stay that focused when our minds are already saturated with lots information. I realize that I go through similar scenario such as urs so I switch books & then return to the others when I am ready. Hope you find at least a few of my thoughts useful / practical. And once again thanks for such a lovely post!

  7. Gideon Rosenblatt​ this is why I do audio books :). A librarian friend gave a tip. Have always 3 different books reading. Like self help, biography, and a fiction book. When losing focus switch books. The context switch helps regain focus.

  8. Great tips everyone! Thank you.

  9. Yup, try some physical activity to wake up a bit Gideon Rosenblatt. You may also try:

    – Using brighter lights to read by

    – Getting more/better quality sleep at night (no bright light or screen time an hour or more before bed etc.)

    – Adding brain super foods/supplements into your diet

    – Exercising on a regular basis and getting regular exposure to outdoor light

    – Consider your gut health, poor gut health can lead to brain fog and other cognitive impairments

    As with most things, there’s probably not a single answer. I’d try a combination of several ideas for a few weeks, and see if you notice a difference.

    Let us know how it goes!

  10. In college one semester, my first class began at 6AM, and my last, a physics class, ended at 12:30AM on lab days – longer if the labs were complex or discussion ensued. In addition to physics, here’s what I learned:

    Read standing up.

  11. Gideon Rosenblatt AS soon as you stated the drifting into sleep, I giggled. This was a plagued of my life, in school, in life for loving reading, all nonfiction, some told me to read more interesting books. Nonfiction is more interesting.

    Later down the line, when meditation did not work and was different aspect focusing on the quiet and allowing creativity to surface, I found someone who made some sense to this little know, however largely pervasive problem; Vestibular alignment.

    Not going into the details, it’s too much. The French has a new design to remedy vestibular problems, along with aligning the crystals in the inner ear.

    Not saying I’m 100% in reading for hours and hours, but I do make almost 2 hours reading before the droopy takes hold.

    Thank you for sharing this private portion of your life Gideon!!

    Wonderful write up on the Sniper Book; Genuine!! from the heart in your own words (as you always show up to be!!)

  12. Attention span cannot be stretched beyond a point because it is just a part of neural energy. It would be worthwhile trying shuffling between various activities of interest with shorter spells.

  13. Should have mentioned. I’ve been reading while I take my midday walk for a few years now. I hardly ever fall asleep. Or fall down (these days) for that matter. 😀

  14. Kenny Chaffin I have seen people do this and it’s amazing. Also, when living in denver, there was a man who biked to work each day, reading a book he never seem to have an accident.

  15. MicheleElys MER Ha! I always thought those people were crazy…I only started doing it after getting my first ebook reader. 🙂

  16. Kenny Chaffin We think everyone is crazy until we start performing similar acts……………of weird kindness LOL Have a wonderful weekend Kenny.. Off to my Arabian horse! Cheers

  17. Try science….meditation will only get you more relaxed and ready for a good nap.

  18. Excellent ideas, John Dietrich​. Thanks for taking the time to last them out. I’m experimenting over the next few weeks.

  19. Gideon Rosenblatt several of us will be interested in hearing about your experiments…….

  20. Thanks for this insight! I’ll definitely check out +David Amerland’s excellent book, The Sniper Mind. I think focus is a sharp tool that helps us cut through things that snag us even in drawing us back from our passions like reading or whatever! Training is more than 50% I say.

  21. Deep. Love it…

  22. Excellent experiment dear friend

  23. we all need a good guide in our life…

    Thanks for writing your experiments …..

    They guide us properly….

  24. How do I pre- order the book?

  25. Do you mean on Amazon, C. J.? If so, just treat it like buying it the regular way, then once it ships, you will receive it.

  26. I think you very smart and wonderful ı agree with yiu

  27. I read book when ı forgetting. are you help me?

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