the inevitability of daily distractions

by admin on July 25, 2012

I wake up at 5:40.  No one in the house is up. Ahhhh. I put on my yoga clothes, drink some water and head downstairs into my quiet little yoga studio I’ve built in the lower level. I’ve got at least 2 hours until I hear any noise from above.  Sooooo nice. I turn on the computer and log onto Yogaglo.com.  Hmmmmm, who should I practice with this morning? Elena Brower? Noah Maze? Love them both.

Start out with a supported restorative pose. Deep inhale, exhale. Sensing my body wake up and feel rejuvenated. Progress through a few warm –up poses with backbending and twisting as the theme, opening up my body and stretching out my tight muscles.  Beginning to tune in.  Ahhhhhh.

Beep. Sh*t. It’s my email. What now?  I can’t focus.  Should I check it?  Ugh. There it goes again.  Two more messages in my inbox.  Really?  At this hour?  I’m already getting behind in my day. Leave it alone, just leave it alone.  It can wait. Trikonasana. Other side.  Beep. I’ll just look at these few and then focus again.  Come on Hayley, can’t you just let it go for an hour? What is wrong with you?  Nothing is that important right now.  Getty clarity, meditating, letting go. That’s what you really need! Why do you get so distracted so easily?

In this day and age of the 21st century, it is incredibly difficult to pull yourself away from the plethora of distractions that tempt us at every moment. We’ve all experienced it. I know I do. Every day.

Most everyone has a cell phone on them at all times, beeping and ringing. Facebook is popping up new photos, events, and notifications every other second. The Internet looming over their shoulder to provide a fresh endless pit of distractions—it has become a part of our lifestyle. Our society even encourages this distraction, in its incognito form: multitasking. Multitasking is simply masking the action of doing too many things at once which is fueled by boundless distractions. It is a way that our culture can increase distractions under a good light and avoid the negativity that often comes with the word ‘distraction.’

Even as I write this article, I find myself starting on another to-do without finishing this one—clicking out of the document and onto something else before I realize what I’m doing! Many of us don’t even catch on to how often we get distracted, it happens with a click of a button, an aversion of the eyes to the phone, or trying to do too much.

I think it is important to take a little time each day where you don’t have your cell phone, laptop, iPad, or your radio on you and just stay focused on what you are doing. How many times do you look at your phone during a meeting or work just to check that one text? Or even out to dinner with your friends! A push on the email button just to see if maybe an email has gone through? I know I do. The high-pitched beep or lulling vibrate of the phone is as luring as an ice cream truck jingle to a child.

As explained by Dictionary.com, distraction is “that which distracts, divides the attention, or prevents concentration.” Especially in my line of work, concentration is incredibly important every day. I find that motivation is a huge key to avoiding distractions—motivation to accomplishing goals, improving oneself, and setting standards. Even something as innocent as setting on another task while not completing the one you were previously on is certainly a distraction and can decrease efficiency by a significant amount.

I believe utilizing willpower and motivation will help you to complete one task at a time, meanwhile ignoring those insufferable beeping text messages, vibrating notifications, and other unfinished tasks to make sure that you do whatever you are doing right.

That being said, it isn’t always easy to utilize our personal willpower reserve and battle distractions of the new age. I know I will continue to feel that pull to check that one email (just for a second!) in my inbox mid-vrksasana, but maybe not every time.

Here is quote from Thich Nhat Hanh, a great Buddhist monk, explaining a good exercise for focusing:

“Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves—slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future. Live the actual moment. Only this moment is life.”

What are some distractions you encounter on a daily basis and how do you try to defeat them?

Check this article out on ElephantJournal.com

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