I’ve had a bit of an awakening over the last week or two. I am currently working on a variety of projects and while I enjoy the majority of them I had been feeling a bit frazzled. When I would sit down to work on my computer, I would open a variety of documents and have a number of tabs running, switching between all of them repeatedly. When a few hours would go by (and eventually days and even weeks working under the same conditions) I would feel increasingly more distracted and frustrated at how shockingly little I had accomplished. During that same time, I was feeling irritated with my son for not “listening” and not focusing on what I would ask him to do or the task at hand. One of the times I was reprimanding him yet again to focus, it dawned on me that that was precisely what I had been doing myself. Not focusing, not giving whatever project I was working on the consideration it required and deserved and, perhaps more poignantly, realizing I had been doing that to my son as well. I wasn’t giving him my full attention which was propelling his own distractibility. If I would provide him with my own deliberate direction, he would be capable of finishing his own tasks much more quickly and with more mindfulness. After making a number of changes both mentally and logistically, all of which have limited the possibility of being taken away from the present moment, I have found a new sense of peace and direction in my work and a lovely (re-)connection with my son.
The whole episode was for me such a testament to some of the challenges we are faced with living, as we do, in an age of distraction. Where multi-tasking is seen as a desirable if not essential component of our lives. And while there is such benefit to having information, inspiration, and ideas so readily available to us, it can take a toll if not handled with awareness. It can be harmful to our relationships as well as to our own minds and spirits if we don’t know how to set boundaries and have guidelines. It has also made me realize just how valuable the gift of attention truly is. As practitioners of yoga, or really any similar discipline, we know it is difficult if not impossible to undertake a challenging pose if our mind isn’t “in it”. So we constantly work on focusing inward or creating a drishti or one pointed focus to bolster our efforts. And it works! By directing our attention and moving with intention and integrity, we are able to make our body do things which seemed previously unavailable. So often we seem to forget to apply this same understanding to our everyday lives. We forget to give ourselves (and those around us) the gift of our undivided attention and it truly is just that, a gift. If you are struggling with a similar distractibility, I invite you to make a few changes, maybe try out being a single-tasker for a bit. Maybe it’s turning off your phone, your computer, your TV for a bit or confronting whatever else it may be that diffuses your attention and just be-with yourself or whoever may be blessed with your undivided focus.