The Distraction Disadvantage
Excerpt from Yoga Nidra for Complete Relaxation & Stress Relief. Julie Lusk. NHP 2015.
Most of us are out of practice when it comes to staying focused and are easily distracted. We try to do too much in too short of time by racing through the ‘to do’ list. Our thoughts, actions, and feelings jump around as quickly as the images and sounds flashing before us while watching a slew of action scenes on television. It becomes hard to stay focused with so much competing for our attention, causing us to be increasingly more scattered. Attention span and memory are prone to shrink to almost nothing. Being mentally distracted is stressful.
It seems impossible to get blocks of time to do any thinking or get anything done anymore because of multitasking and all the disruptions that come from the continual connectivity at work, home, and in the car. While writing this article, the phone rang, our new puppy needed to go out, and I got up to get a drink. – all in the span of minutes.
Have you ever looked back on your day and asked, “I was busy running around all day, but what did I get done?”
Learning to handle distractions is important.
- Do your best to prevent distractions. When you notice being distracted, quickly congratulate yourself for noticing. Say something to yourself like, “Good catch.” There is no need to beat yourself up or get analytical.
- Find something neutral that you feel comfortable silently saying to yourself to disengage yourself from distractions and bring your attention back to the present. Here are some examples:
- Say something like “Oh, never-mind,” then gently bring your awareness back to the present.
- A passive “Oh well,” is recommended by Dr. Benson and William Proctor in their Relaxation Revolution book (page 10).
- “Not now, maybe later,” is another good choice.
- Name the distraction and let it go. Examples include, “Noise,” or “Cold,” or “Thought,” or “Planning,” or whatever it happens to be.
- Rather than thinking “I’m feeling bored and impatient,” realize, “Here’s boredom and impatience.” Or, “Isn’t this interesting.” Remind yourself, “I am not my thoughts.”
- Use mental imagery such as thinking of thoughts as weeds to be plucked and discarded, or as clouds floating by, or imagine tossing them into a river to be carried away.
- Welcome the distraction with a “Hello restless mind,” or “Hello soreness” and explore the present moment experience. Chances are excellent that paying attention to it will lead to its disappearance. Find out for yourself.
- Play with distractions or have a conversation with them such as, “Hi, it’s you again. How about going on vacation for a while,” or “Bye, bye, off you go.”
Enjoy this 3 minute video. It shows what happens when a Samurai Warrior takes a sword to a pesky fly. This lesson on handling distractions is priceless.
Julie Lusk, MEd, E-RYT 500, has more than 35 years of expertise in stress relief, yoga, relaxation training, guided imagery, and meditation as an international author, recording artist, and workshop leader. Julie is the author of Yoga Nidra for Complete Relaxation and Stress Relief, Yoga Meditations, two volumes of 30 Scripts for Relaxation, Imagery and Inner Healing, and Desktop Yoga®. Her audio downloads and CDs include Wholesome Relaxation, Power of Presence, Yoga Nidra Essentials, Blue Moon Rising, and many others. Learn more at JulieLusk.com