Peak Mind | Amishi P. Jha

Summary of: Peak Mind: Find Your Focus, Own Your Attention, Invest 12 Minutes a Day
By: Amishi P. Jha

Introduction

Welcome to the journey of discovering the power of attention! In ‘Peak Mind: Find Your Focus, Own Your Attention, Invest 12 Minutes a Day’ by Amishi P. Jha, you’ll uncover how your brain’s attention system operates through three subsystems – the flashlight, the floodlight, and the juggler. You’ll learn about the key factors that can damage your attention, such as stress, threat, and poor mood, and how these elements can impact your memory-making process. Most importantly, Jha emphasizes the importance of mindfulness meditation as a solution for keeping your attention system sharp and focused. Embark on this adventure to strengthen your mind and achieve a higher sense of well-being.

The Power of Attention

As humans, we possess finely tuned sensory organs, memories, and the ability to contemplate, imagine, and predict. However, to excel at any of these tasks, we must be able to control our attention. Attention involves highlighting what’s relevant while suppressing unimportant stimuli. There are three subsystems of attention: the flashlight, the floodlight, and the juggler, and they are all significant to our ability to direct our attention. The most recognizable subsystem of attention is the flashlight, which allows us to select certain types of information while dimming the rest. For instance, as you read this summary, chances are your surroundings are out of focus. The flashlight can be a useful tool, but it requires being directed in the right direction to be effective.

The Floodlight and The Juggler

Have you ever experienced coming home to an unexpectedly open front door? This triggers your alerting system or floodlight, which is associated with states of vigilance. It helps you keep an eye out for threats and also directs your attention inward, looking out for thoughts and feelings that you should pay attention to. However, you can’t always be on high alert. At some point, you need to shut off the floodlight and calm down. This is where the juggler comes in, helping you find balance and relaxation after a state of alertness.

The Juggler: Your Inner CEO

In the same way a chief executive oversees and manages a business, your central executive – aka the juggler – is responsible for monitoring and guiding your whole thought process, overriding impulsive behavior and aligning goals with actions. As one of three powerful subsystems of attention, the juggler helps you navigate any challenge by ensuring all the balls stay in the air. However, along with the spotlight and the floodlight, the juggler tends to function solo rather than in tandem.

What Can Damage Your Attention

Discover the three main factors that can damage your attention system and wreak havoc on your power of attention. Stress, threat, and poor mood are the culprits that interfere with your ability to marshal your attention. Stress will hijack your mind’s cognitive resources, directing them away from the present. Threats magnetize your attention like little else, making disengaging from them all but impossible. And poor mood can lead to significant decline in attention and working memory. These factors can not only cause issues in the present but can also lead to problems down the line by interfering with the way you create memories.

The Three Steps of Making a Memory

Making a memory involves three simple steps: rehearsal, elaboration, and consolidation. Rehearsal means repeating information to lodge it in your memory. Elaboration involves connecting new information to existing memories. Consolidation creates, strengthens, and stores new neural pathways for long-term memory. However, degradation of attention can easily disrupt this process. Mental downtime is crucial for consolidation, but stress, poor mood, and constant threats hijack attention. Furthermore, you can only remember what you focus on, so if you’re not mentally present in a situation, you won’t remember it well.

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