Big screens, little screens, on and off screen, in front of you, behind you, in your ear, in your face, in your car, in your home, everywhere. Distractions are everywhere.
We drown in them. We’re derailed by them. We’re inspired by them. …We’re in love with them.
We seek them out. We call to them, asking to be taken away. To be our rescuer from the mundane and boring. From the difficult and challenging. From the tragic and heartbreaking.
We welcome distractions with open arms, to clutter our existence with denial, avoidance or entertainment.
It may seem harmless, but what are these distractions costing us?
Squirrels And Other Furry Distractions
What does it mean to be distracted? To distract means to interrupt and divert the attention. To be distracted means to be pulled away, pulled off course.
When we’re distracted, our attention has been hijacked by a certain person, place, thought or thing (oftentimes in multiples).
Distractions aren’t “bad.” Sometimes they help us cope, deal, get past something. When I can’t shake a negative thought, I’ll distract myself with a funny movie, sleep on it, and wake up with a renewed perspective. Just ignoring the thought helps me get over it.
What I’m doing is allow myself some distance from the negative thought until I am mentally prepared to process and purge it.
Other times, when distracted, I’m pulled toward anything that is interesting, curious, beautiful…
Distractions, for whatever reason, represent our own inner wanderings and musings. They’re not at all about what’s doing the distracting.
They’re about us, and what’s going on inside.
We seek distractions to occupy our minds when we’re avoiding pain, anxiety, or the emptiness of a decluttered mind. Distractions are emotional.
What we let distract us keeps us company. Keeps us looking on the surface, rather than diving deep within. Keeps us pulled away from our simplest selves.
But without distractions, if you can imagine it, we are clear and pure.
A decluttered mind, free of distractions, doesn’t mean indifference. It doesn’t mean not caring. Actually, decluttered results in more connection, more feeling than ever before. More taking in the richness and abundance, because there’s nothing in the way.
Buddhist teacher, Judy Lief, says
“letting go of distractions is the path to enlightenment.”
Imagine if we ditched the distractions and didn’t seek escape from feeling; from experiencing the ups and downs of life.
Imagine if we accepted pain and pleasure as a sign we were alive, rather than resisting.
There can be noise and explosions everywhere, but we don’t have to succumb to the disruption of peace.
Can we ditch the distractions and return to simplicity?
The short answer: absolutely.
Distractions won’t ever stop, but you can learn to mitigate their hijacking nature, and not let them steal you away. You can let them teach you about yourself whenever they come around. Like why you rely on them.
You can hone a clarity and vigilance over the distractions, nurturing a peaceful, mindful mind. (All the things this blog is dedicated to helping you master.)
You can pause more, increasing the spaciousness between the distractions and placing your attention in the void.
This helps you look deeper into yourself, and your own tendency to run away and hide. It’s empty and lonely in there, who would want to go that deep? It’s too intense to handle! But that’s where the enlightenment is. In that vast openness, where there’s nowhere else to go.
If you choose to distract yourself from your Self, then you choose to be distracted from the open space of a decluttered, awakened mind—where simplicity reigns.
There’s no manual on/off switch for distractions, but there is a mindful shift that will lower the volume.
Slowly drop it a decibel or two, listening for what you’d rather hear instead.