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If resistance is how long you can go doing physically exausting stuff before you die or get overtraining fever then focus is the analogue to magic, your ability to perform magically exhausting stuff before you die or get mage fever.

You train your resistance by gradually adapting your body to lower rest and longer training sessions, like soldiers do or how those russian kids doing sets of literal hundreds of pull ups, dips and push ups. And this can take years, or decades..

But say you are a mage ''athlete'', for that you want to increase your mental ability to focus as much as possible. What is then the most time and resource efficient way to do so?

definition source

Mental Focus, or concentration, refers to the ability of an individual to direct mental effort on the most relevant information in the environment.

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    $\begingroup$ Here's one thing I don't understand : In your source they write about how to improve focus. Why isn't that sufficient for your question then? Do you think they don't provide the most efficient way of increasing focus, and if so, why? $\endgroup$ Jan 10, 2023 at 1:39
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    $\begingroup$ All discipline, mental or physical, is simply self-discipline. Concentration is mostly the ability to push away distractions. There are books and websites explaining how to train for greater self-discipline. Have you researched any of those sources? For future reference, the mouse roll-over for the down vote says, among other things, "this question does not show any research effort." As you increase in rep, we'll hold you to that. Stack Exchange is not a free research service - it's where you go when your own research stalled. Explaining why in your question is often very valuable. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Jan 10, 2023 at 2:08
  • $\begingroup$ @JBH Do you know any websites where I can researche ''competitive focus athletes'' and their various training methods and how they compare? For weightlifting we have decades worth of studies comparing various training methods to find the most efficient...but downvoting my question because ''duh didn't you know that you can meditate to increase your focus and attention, didn't you do any research duh?'' sounds kind of ''me'' $\endgroup$
    – user100394
    Jan 16, 2023 at 17:45
  • $\begingroup$ Try Googling "how to improve self-discipline" and "memory competition." You might also do some research into the self-discipline training practiced by martial arts masters. I regret that you feel slighted, but if that's all you took away from my comment, you didn't read it very well. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Jan 17, 2023 at 5:55

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Most efficient? Objectively? Drugs.

We already have drugs to increase focus, because there is a condition that humans can have, ADHD, which is characterised by lack of focus. The drugs that are used to treat ADHD fall into two categories, but I believe you would be primarily interested in the stimulant group. These drugs, the best known of which is amphetamine, increase the production of various neurochemicals, in particular dopamine and noradrenaline. Although their medical use is to allow people with ADHD to increase their focus to "normal" levels, they can just as much be used by people without ADHD who then experience cognitive, physical and academic performance enhancements, euphoria and - indeed - increased focus.

Amphetamine is cheap to produce and has reasonably tolerable side effects, to the point that many people with ADHD are able to keep taking it regularly for their whole life. Unless you have some kind of "anti-doping" agency (and even if you do), I see no reason why your mages would not make use of this simple, immediate-effect drug. Then, they could also engage in meditation and structured practice - in fact, the enhanced focus from the drug would increase their mental endurance and goal-oriented behaviour and make the training more effective (some people with ADHD report that medication is necessary to concentrate enough to engage in meditation).

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Short answer: Training.

Longer answer: I think we can look at both Military for some ideas here - with the Crawl, Walk, Jog, Sprint method.

Once the basics have been mastered (The Crawl), then the Mage is tasked with putting them into practical applications (Walk), then practical applications in adverse environments (Jog), then application in adverse environment under high induced stress (Sprint).

The idea is to get the conscious actions to become sub-conscious and reflex - allowing the conscious mind (that is, the part that suffers the most fatigue) to concentrate on the other elements.

So for example, a Mage might be practicing a simple Water Spell, then they might practice doing it to put out a Fire, then they might practice doing it putting out a building on fire, at night, then they might practice putting out a building on fire, whilst they can here (Imitated, of course ;) ) the screams of women and children being burned alive in the building.

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Repeating the same action over and over is how one adapt their body and gets better at performing that action, be it carrying 20 kg potato bags, shooting 3 pointers or playing chess.

Therefore for improving focus your mages will practice, practice, practice, practice, practice, practice, practice and practice again.

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Meditation

I'm not a golfer, but I once read something interesting about golfing. (I'm aware that claim invalidates this answer as hard-science.)

The article claimed that golf is a game in which a player can really only excel if they are an honest person. Not, as you might expect, because dishonesty while playing will drive away other players, but because a person who is generally dishonest in their life will be unable to achieve the state of perfect mental calm and focus necessary to reliably achieve the precision demanded by golf.

True or not, I think that argument illustrates a core problem with focus. You cannot be focused if your mind is always being pulled in different directions by all kinds of other thoughts and concerns. (As they say, "focus is the art of saying 'no'.")

To achieve focus and sustain it for a long time, a person needs to be able to truly set aside all their other thoughts: worries about their health and finances, anxiety about things they must do in the future, guilt or remorse or even fear of discovery of past deeds, complaints about their current physical comfort, musings about what food they might enjoy for their next meal, etc. Everything.

People practice doing that regularly in real life for a whole bunch of reasons, the most well-known probably being religion, yoga, and "mindfulness." I personally don't do any of that stuff, but I meditate because I think it helps me in my job (I'm a computer programmer).

Meditation is a thing you do for its own sake, but also as practice for future occasions when you need to master your thoughts.

I would absolutely expect mages to be big into meditation.

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/by gradually adapting your body to lower rest and longer training sessions, like soldiers do or how those russian kids doing sets of literal hundreds of pull ups, dips and push ups/

Same way

Physical fatigue breeds mental fatigue. Fatigue comes from the same pot for both. If you want to keep your mind sharp for prolonged periods, keep your body fit. Because as you physically wear out, that drags down your mind too. If you work out to become a person who does not easily get tired, you are then a person who does not easily get tired. For any reason.

People in good shape can get sick of doing mental work. That is not because they are tired. It is because they don't like it and find it hard and frustrating and would rather be doing something else. But if you like the mental work and are in good shape you can go and go and go.

-- The spindly bookish mages would probably rather there be some cerebral thing they can do, or potion they can drink. It takes several of them together to do a pull up. But physical fitness is the answer. The mages too must run up and down the mountain and play catch with medicine balls.

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