Each week I spend hours “focusing” — on Tai Chi moves, on intentional walking when outside, on helping students learn to focus their minds on moving their bodies in Tai Chi class, on listening and processing information for a candidate search process I am participating in — but today I am thinking instead about “distracting.”
I looked the word up. In the online Merriam Webster dictionary, it says “distracting is an object that directs one’s attention away from something else.” Sound familiar? Feel familiar? Yes. We start the day down one path and get distracted. Something pops up to divert our attention to something else. Then in the midst of that ‘something else,’ another unexpected something happens to pull our attention elsewhere. Our phones and computers distract us as we scroll down the screen with images and videos flashing at us. And then ads flash across the screens covering what we’re looking at and we are again distracted by a message on top of another message. Are you feeling distracted just reading this?
What to do? You might feel your mind swirling at times, not able to focus on much of anything. And when our minds swirl, our nervous system reacts, our muscles tighten and our breath either shortens or sometimes we even hold our breath.
Think creatively because much of this is in your control. You can distract yourself from all the competing messages and chatter that come at you each day. Before you can really focus, you need to distract your self from what occupies your mind to something else. Only then can you start to focus on things that are really important to you, your health, your family, your job, your caring about others. Take a big step — distract yourself from all chatter and clutter, to something else that will help you begin to focus.