The Freedom to Form Bonds: Kevin Majeres on Mindfulness and Attention

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We have all experienced moments in which we are so immersed in a task that we lose track of time and performance feels effortless. For some, this may occur on the sports field; for others, in the classroom; and still, for others, in the performance hall.

Yet, we have likely also experienced the opposite. For many children, the struggle for concentration is probably more prevalent. 

Last week, we began a three-part series with Dr. Kevin Majeres. We discussed what anxiety is and how parents can help their sons—and themselves—turn occasions of anxiety into opportunities for growth. This week, we are back with Dr. Majeres to discuss attention and mindfulness.

In the episode, Dr. Majeres helps us begin to answer the following questions: 

  1. Although we all may know the symptoms, what really is at the heart of attentional issues?
  2. What is a distraction? How does it differ from an interruption? 
  3. What is occurring physiologically when boys experience attentional difficulties? 
  4. What are ways to develop the muscles of attention? 
  5. What are common practices that cause attention to atrophy? 
  6. Is medicating a good way to approach attentional issues? 
  7. What is mindfulness? What are ways for younger children to practice mindfulness? 
  8. How does freedom relate to mindfulness? 

In the end, mindfulness offers us a doorway into two aspects of freedom that are at the heart of human flourishing. Learning to attend to our work at school helps us to attend to others in society. And, in both instances, learning to attend well is a pathway to love; for what we love captures our attention — what lover does not often find his mind turning to his beloved? — and that to which we attend, we can begin to love.  

If education is the turning of a mind, as we hear in the Republic, then mindfulness may well be fundamental to its success. For when one turns toward the truth, he will thereby be ready not only to recognize it but, even more, he will be prepared to fall in love with it.  

Chapters

  • 2:05 Introduction and Review of Episode 1
    • 3:55 What is ADD and ADHD? 
    • 4:38 The Two Halves of Attention
    • 6:28 Training the Default Mode Network
  • 7:28 The Neuroscience of Attentional Difficulties
    • 7:53 Theta Waves and the Muscle of Attention
    • 9:05 The Three Movements of Attentional Training
    • 9:55 Medication and the Gray Matter
    • 11:13 Are Attentional Difficulties a Fixed Trait? 
  • 12:02 What Weakens the Attention?
    • 12:45 Video Games
    • 13:25 How Music, Reading, and Work are not like Video Games
    • 14:53 Passive Attention 
  • 15:30 Memory and Attention
    • 16:35 The Importance of Imagination
  • 18:01 Strengthening Attention
    • 19:15 Slowing Down and Mindfulness
  • 20:08 The Importance of Order and Predictability
  • 22:15 Silence and Work
    • 22:50 How distractions differ from Interruptions
  • 26:00 Mindfulness for Young Children
    • 30:18 The Golden Hour
  • 31:33 Strategies for a Helping a Reluctant Boy
  • 33:16 Forming the Perimeter
  • 37:33 Mindfulness and Interior Freedom
    • 38:50 The Freedom for Personal Bonds

Additional Resources

What is a Golden Hour? with Dr. Kevin Majeres and Sharif Younes

Back to the Basics: An Intro to OptimalWork with Dr. Kevin Majeres

OptimalWork on YouTube

Reflections on the Right Use of School Studies by Simone Weil

Also on The Forum 

From Anxiety to Adventure with Dr. Kevin Majeres

Why We Need Exposure to Nature by Eric Heil 

Training the Hand to Train the Mind by Robert Grieving 

Three Guiding Principles for Homework by Rich Moss

Kevin Majeres

About the guest:

Kevin Majeres


Dr. Kevin Majeres is the co-founder of OptimalWork. Born and raised in Minnesota, Dr. Majeres attended college at the University of Dallas in Irving, Texas, and then stayed in Dallas for medical school and residency training at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. After graduation he completed a fellowship with the Beck Institute of Cognitive Therapy and Research in Philadelphia, and became a certified affiliate of the Academy of Cognitive Therapy. He is also a member of the Association of Behavioral and Cognitive Therapists. Dr. Majeres is currently on the faculty of Harvard Medical School, where he teaches a weekly class on cognitive-behavioral therapy to psychiatrists-in-training at Beth-Israel Deaconess Medical Center.