Learn to stay focused in a world of digital disruptions

February 6, 2018
Lisa Weighton

As you read this story, chances are, you’ll get distracted. Maybe it’ll be the ping of an email alert, the illuminated screen of a Facebook notification or simply the weight of your mounting to-do list.

If that’s the case, you’re not alone.

“We’re more distracted than ever,” says Dr. Paul Mohapel, associate faculty member in Professional and Continuing Studies and the School of Leadership Studies.

In the last decade, attention spans have seen a sharp decline—dropping from about 12 minutes to three—due in part to digital distractions like smart phones, Mohapel says. Our ability to concentrate, manage stress and to work efficiently suffers as a result.

Mohapel, who has a background in neuroscience, teaches in Royal Roads’ Integrated Mindfulness Certificate program. He says his students are looking for tools to enhance focus, increase connection with others and engage more deeply in their work and lives.

“We live in an era where we are constantly on our devices and mindfulness is a really effective process or balancing force,” he says.

Balance was exactly what David Stuart was seeking to guide him through his retirement years. He registered for the certificate program after retiring from his senior manager role at Petro Canada.

“The Foundations of Mindfulness Practice course helped me manage the stresses and challenges we face in our everyday lives,” Stuart says, who received his Integrated Mindfulness Certificate last year.

As a self-described “cerebral” learner, Stuart appreciated how the certificate program integrated the rigour of academia with experiential learning.

“I am a rational comprehensive thinker, so having an understanding of the science and benefits of mindfulness is extremely important,” he says.

The certificate program, which was jointly developed by core facilitators Mohapel, Patricia Galaczy and Sarah Kinsley, includes three core courses and five electives. Courses are offered throughout the year which learners can complete at their own pace.

Elective courses include Mindfulness for Leaders, Mindfulness in Education, Mindfulness in the Workplace and a mindful parenting course.

Galaczy has more than 10,000 teaching hours guiding learners through leadership, mindfulness and management curriculum. She emphasizes that mindfulness is not about “fixing ourselves.”

“Mindfulness holds up a mirror to all the activity of mind and body, asking us to bring wise and kind attention to our moment-to-moment experience as it is,” she says.

In doing so, Galaczy says learners can develop their innate capacity to respond to their lives with more skill, wisdom, compassion and creativity.

Kinsley has a background in yoga, psychology and counselling and also teaches in the Certificate of Applied Mindfulness Studies at the University of Toronto. She says her students and clients crave a personal mindfulness practice due to stressors at home and at work.

“More and more people are looking for ways to create a healthier work-life balance and ways to cope with the demands of our multi-tasking, 24-hour on existence,” she says. “Everyone I work with is seeking out ways to create a little space in their lives.”

Learn more about our Integrated Mindfulness Certificate. Courses can be taken individually or as part of a for-credit, non-degree certificate.