Distraction and the Gentle Discipline of Mindfulness

puppy-distraction

Puppies are easily distracted – are you, too?

Distraction is a hallmark of this era. We are bombarded with information from every direction, and we also expect to have immediate answers to the questions that pop into our minds.

Consider the fact that Google is both a noun and a verb. What a clear indicator that is of how embedded the expectation of instant answers is in our psyches. So, if you think about it, staying  focused and on-track is actually becoming unusual, while distraction is the norm.

Distraction is the New Normal

What does that mean in practice?

For starters, it means that sound bites comprise much of our discourse, while complexities and subtleties fall by the wayside. We are captured by headlines, rather than by the articles that follow.

Not only that, but as we read or talk or watch something, our minds wander away as our fingers type in search terms. Sound familiar? You’re exploring the errant question that just occurred to you, and that will take you to an article with a link to a website that leads you to another interesting search.

When you come to, you realize that 20-minutes have passed.

Distraction and Discipline

It requires discipline to overcome the temptations of distraction. And here’s the thing – rigid discipline doesn’t work very well. That’s because rigidity brings out the rebel in each of us. Rigidity is like putting a lid on a boiling pot. Ultimately, you’re eventually going to see that pot overflow.

So I advise a gentler approach — one that employs the tools of mindfulness.

When you’re mindful you are choosing to be conscious and present to the moment that you are in. As you do that, you begin to notice all the places that your mind goes — sometimes in the blink of an eye.

But rather than harshly or self-critically constrain these wanderings, I encourage my clients to gently pull their minds back to their breath and to this moment.

Gentle Mindfulness

The image of my mind that I’ve found helpful in this work is that of a puppy. The puppy wanders off, exploring the sight, sounds, and smells of its world. And you, the gentle teacher, pull your puppy back over and over.

You’re not harsh or scolding, but you are consistent. And the puppy gradually learns.

Overcoming distraction with mindfulness allows you to live your moments more fully and deeply. You discover things about the world, and about yourself, that simply aren’t accessible when you are skimming the surface.

So I invite you to explore the gentle art of mindfulness as you set aside distractions and find time for a different experience entirely!

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