I finally broke down and replaced my old, obsolete tablet. All it had become good for was as a home for a gallery of photos. There were no relevant apps that worked well anymore. Meanwhile, the new tablet contains many new features plus some “free” gifts to use on the device.
One of the main reasons I wanted the device was to enable me to quickly practice and communicate by using a drawing app with my Russian friend. This way I don’t have to reconfigure my laptop to Russian each time we write back and forth. This new drawing feature is working well.
When the new tablet is being used for routine tasks, I encounter new distractions I had not anticipated. Aside from the annoying notification sounds, there are games I want to try and a selection of new complementary ebooks residing in the device’s memory.
As with everything in life, we must prioritize our thoughts and activities so that we don’t live as scatterbrains who go mindlessly from distraction to distraction all day long. The new technology has enhanced the art of distraction to amazing levels. Because of the Web, hours simply melt away as we hypnotically follow links and suggested sites. It’s easy to see how these distractions can lead to serious addiction to our screens.
Electronic devices aren’t the only tools of mass distraction. There are also the old standbys that intrude whether we are engaged in a project or if one is taking a mental breather or engaged in meditation.
First and foremost is the distraction of the monkey mind. Random thoughts enter consciousness and disturb our concentration and our peace of mind. Often we become lost in thought about the last event we were doing before we realize we became distracted. Maybe it was a billboard along the highway advertising a product. A fantasy is woven about how life would be enhanced if that product became yours. Suddenly you realize the fantasy has distracted you from the task of concentrating on your driving.
Sexual fantasies are one of the most primal distractions that enter the mind. These are strong because they are mental and physical. Everyone gets lost in these urges from time to time.
Then there is the physical sensation of pain. Perhaps this isn’t a standard distraction because it serves a vital purpose in our well-being. Yet physical pain generates thoughts that cycle over and over. The mind searches for strategies to relieve the pain while the rest of consciousness is flooded with experiencing the pain itself. We all know how difficult it is to perform tasks while suffering headaches and other types of pain.
Food and drink are common distractions. While writing this list, I snagged a couple of crackers and took a sip of coffee. Either having food and drink nearby or thinking about food and drink disengages us from the work at hand.
Do you have a song in your head right now? The melody and lyrics of a song playing on your mental stereo system can be a major distraction. Sometimes we struggle to remember the words of a verse. Worse yet, a song one absolutely hates might begin a continuous loop in the mind. While the music plays, the concentration on a task suffers.
It’s easy to forget that tiredness and sleepiness are distractions. If we don’t get enough sleep or if we have worked hard, we can become drowsy. Dozing off will hinder our level of productivity. Sleepiness while driving or using heavy equipment can contribute to a serious or deadly accident. Frequently the distraction of being tired combines with another mental distraction, then all pretenses of concentration are gone.
One of the most nagging distractions is the ego. If you pay attention to your monkey mind or your internal dialogue, you’ll notice that the subject of oneself is front and center. Questions come up, such as: What about me? Why doesn’t so and so care about me? When will anybody understand me? Why not me? and on and on it goes. These questions are so common, we very rarely pay attention to their true meanings. In a way, our personal ego trips are the biggest distractions. When we are distracted by the ego, we only see ourselves.
A teacher told me his secret to happy living. Take notice and become aware of distractions. Face them fully, then you can easily let go of them. This is the art of peaceful mindfulness. It is an endless art that becomes better with practice.