John Lennon once wrote in his song Beautiful Boy, “Life is what happens to you when you are busy making other plans.” There is so much today to distract us from focusing on what is happening in the moment and most likely more worthy of our attention. Sometimes we unintentionally distract ourselves when life presents as difficult or uncomfortable. We can spend a lifetime acting out our distractions. The restless mind is prone to wander, and living a distracted life can rob us from living life in our own existence, engaging in what was intended for us to see and experience.
I know the narratives from my alcoholic and drug addicted clients, who often talk about how alcohol, drugs, sex, gambling and work were all behaviors that “distracted” them from dealing with their inner worlds and external conflicts, which were only compounded by their addictions. Distractions can be interferences generated either internally or externally, like addictive behaviors. Internal distractions are things like: day dreaming, fantasy, or worry. For example, worrying about going to the dentist, imaging the fears and existential threat of the dentist, instead of calling and taking care of your tooth pain. I remember many times daydreaming during an exam, wishing I was somewhere else instead of in the classroom taking this anxiety provoking test. This strategy was not helpful during time limited tests!
When intentionally decreasing the amount of distractions in our life, both external and internal, we focus our lens towards life as it presents itself in the moment. When you unsubscribe to the story about your life, then you are more able to live a life of less interference and distraction. One of the key practices when lessening distractions from your mind is to allow them to pass gently. Try not to be self-critiquing when shifting from worry to acceptance. Simply watch the distractions come and go, don’t cling on to them.
Today, be more aware of the distractions that come and go. See if there are any patterns or trends. Become a seasoned observer of your mind, without joining in on the mind generated chaos and interferences.