Distraction, Good or Bad?

It’s a Saturday and I’ve booked off time to write. For whatever reason today I’m aware of how distracted I can be.

Spring is trying to appear and I keep checking. I’m taken by a break in the clouds and stare at the blue formations, “Wow, I love that blue!” I see my barren back porch and daydream about what I’m going to grow and what new little item I’m going to get this year to make this cherished outdoor room come alive. Then I get up and look around my house to see how I can bring more life indoors. My son brings me a coffee from a local well-known vendor and I see “Errand Boy” written on the cup. Must be a story there so, of course, I have to find him and ask him, “Wassup with the name on the cup?” Great story. That leads to watching the hockey game.

I’m gone. Distracted. Block of time used up.

Is it good or bad?

I’d like to give you a per-Ellie-spective (I know, just let me flow with this). For most of you who know me, I’m going to say distraction is neither good nor bad. It just is. How you relate to distraction will make the difference though. So I’d like to make a distinction here.

When you think in terms of distractions, you look outward and blame external conditions for your jumpiness. “I’m distracted by…” This can lead to judgment and blame. But if you think in terms of “wandering mind” (borrowed from a Buddhist view), you look inward for the source of your problem. “I let my mind wander to view the blue sky.” You take responsibility. Big difference.

I think the distinction is important because distractions will never go away. You have technology at your fingertips and access to a myriad of sources of information on anything you can think of. The good news is that you can change how you react to them.

Let’s face it, when the mind wanders you can sometimes discover new perspectives, ideas, and concepts. Often those moments can be gateways to new ways of thinking or creating. But we also want to accomplish our tasks.

In some cases you can ask yourself, “What is the distraction really about? What am I distracting myself from and why?” In my case, the distraction was wonderful. I felt better in the wonders of Spring, new energy, and the fun story told by my son. So when I come back to considering when the heck I am going to write this blog, I’m more gentle with myself. My inner dialogue is, “Ok that was nice. No problem, I’ll either write it later or (as is the case) I’ll cross off a couple of errands today.” I see it’s better to relax into the results of my wanderings than it is to judge myself or blame the situation.

The truth is that I had a choice in every moment. I didn’t DECIDE to write, and so my mind wandered off. The same can apply to meditation. Once you DECIDE to meditate, you have an experience where you bring yourself to where you are over and over again. If you don’t decide, you wander off.

So here it is. Don’t get so hyped up about all the media on how distracted you will be by all the “bad” technology. Instead, consider this an opportunity to get clear on what you are DECIDING to do that day. You may DECIDE to close the shades and get your work done, or, like me DECIDE to let the “shiny things and people” take you away 🙂 Your choice.

(Shoot, the Habs lost!)

Mindfully,

Ellie

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