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Ships January 09, 2024 | Distraction isn’t a new problem. We’re also not the first to complain about how hard it is to concentrate. Early Christian monks beat us to it. They had given up everything to focus on God, yet they still struggled to keep the demons of distraction at bay. But rather than surrender to the meandering of their minds, they developed powerful strategies to improve their attention and engagement. How to Focus is an inviting collection of their strikingly relatable insights and advice—frank, funny, sympathetic, and psychologically sophisticated.
This wisdom is drawn from John Cassian’s fifth-century CE Collationes, one of the most influential manuals for monks from late antiquity. The Collationes follow Cassian and his friend Germanus as they travel around Egypt, asking a series of sage monks how they can make their minds stronger. In response, these monks offer a range of techniques for increasing focus, including setting goals, training the body, managing the memory, using mantras, taking breaks, consulting others—and, most of all, being honest about yourself. As Cassian and Germanus eventually realize, we can’t escape distraction—but we can learn how to confront it and, eventually, to concentrate.
Featuring an engaging new translation by Jamie Kreiner and the original Latin on facing pages, How to Focus can help even the least monkish of us to train our attention on what matters most.
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