Three of the best active techniques for driving attention into the present moment are:
1. Clear Goals
2. Immediate Feedback
3. Challenge/Skills Ratio
1. means breaking complex tasks into multiple bite-size chunks. This gives moment to moment clarity as we execute on tasks, and clarity gives us certainty. We know what to do and where to focus our attention while we are doing it. Metacognition is replaced by in-the-moment cognition, and the self stays out of the picture. We are fully in the now.
2. means increasing sensitivity, shortening the distance between cause and effect. On a slack-line you're either balanced and staying on the line, or unbalanced and falling off. There's no distance or ambiguity between cause and effect there, and that's one reason slack-lineing is great at bringing attention into the now. The same in-the-moment coupling of cause and effect can be applied to almost any activity.
3. means developing a very specific relationship between the difficulty of the task we're involved in and our ability to perform that task. The difficulty needs to be more than our ability - but only slightly more. If too difficult, anxiety and uncertainty pull us out of the now. If too easy, out attention wanders, with the same effect. Within the sweet spot attention is kept locked in the present.
1, 2 and 3 all work together.
In a work session, for example, I take whatever I need to accomplish in that session and break that up into series of well-defined bite-sized tasks which fall within my challenge/skills sweet spot, and I sensitise to the immediate feedback I receive as I work through those tasks. The more clearly defined the tasks, the more obvious the feedback becomes - as long as I'm in the sweet spot.
Result = increased productivity and, more importantly: flow.