Without strong focus there is no way to achieve excellence. Really. It's just that simple.
There are two regions in the brain responsible for our ability to maintain focus. One brain region is associated with concentration. We all know about concentration. No biggie right? Most traditional meditation methods work to improve our capacity to hold our mind on one point or object. Another region supports the ability to ignore the irrelevant. These regions are similar in location and composition, but support wholly different aspects of focus. Ignoring usually plays a lessor, or complimentary, role to the primary directive to concentrate.
Here's the interesting bit, our ability to concentrate remains relatively stready as we age, but our ability to ignore declines. Based on the location, size and composition of these similar brain regions, the rate of decline should be similar. Why the different rates of decline? We don't know yet. There's little data as this bicameral structural aspect of focus has only recently been documented. I'll keep you posted.
What does this suggest for mind-body training? Simple. My meditation methods are explicitly designed to optimize focus by increasing both concentration and the capacity to ignore. Excellence relies on equal parts grit and resilience. Managing anxiety, fear and loathing requires dedicated intentional practice. This type of mental focus brings relaxation and ease under pressure.