Building A Better You

Hello all,

Finals week is almost here, and that means we will all soon be consumed in our studies. Before we all become distracted by the impending time that will be spent in the library or wherever you find comfort while studying, I wanted to take this time to share a few tips that may help mitigate the effects that stress can have on your mental health. As I have previously stated, we will soon be distracted by the tasks that are in need of our attention, but it is worthwhile to set these distractions aside from time to time and focus on yourself. I want to share an excerpt from the Little Book of Mindfulness by Matt Valentine; it is a lighthearted approach to discussing our daily distractions and how to manage them. I found this to be extremely relevant to the lives that we live today. We are constantly distracted by our phones, social media, and technology in general, and I believe this can be a helpful resource for anyone who is finding themselves constantly distracted. Enjoy!

-Conner

 

Finding Peace in the Age of Distraction

          Distraction is a force which takes our already dispersed
attention and splits it into a million different strings. It brings our
monkey mind to a whole new level. This was already touched on
in the section on “Stopping”, but our modern world warrants extra
focus on this particular point. If it wasn’t enough that our minds
are already naturally inclined to this semi-conscious and stress
induced state, the modern era has brought us many of the worst
sources for distraction all within a matter of decades.
These distractions, which are the substance of our monkey
mind, are always within arm’s reach in our modern world.
Smartphones are in our pockets, desktops are at our place of work,
and TVs are in our homes. It’s so easy to distract ourselves from
reality. But if we can bring our attention back to the present
moment with mindfulness we have the ability to attain both a
tranquil mind and clear vision.

          This is the reason mindfulness is so attractive to us. Our
modern world is plugged in 24/7 and it’s difficult to get away from
these distractions even if you make an effort. More than ever it’s
so easy to live in a mindless and disconnected state of being. Most
of us are rarely fully present. We live in a state of perpetual
distraction. We live the majority of our lives in one place while
thinking of another. We’re at work but we’re thinking about what
to make for dinner tonight at home. We’re at home thinking about
that project we have to finish at work. We’re enjoying eating out
with our family but we’re really inside of our heads, stressing
about the bills we have to pay next month. We all think this is
normal. That it’s OK. But it’s not. This mind dispersion is the cause
of much of our suffering and discontent.

          After a tough day, one where you’ve been rushing around
constantly and inevitably forgotten to take time for yourself, your
mind will naturally be more active. If you sit down to meditate
during this time you’ll see that your mind is literally like a
firecracker. It will be very difficult to keep the mind in one place
for more than a few seconds. In this situation the mind will often
be distracted over nothing special. It’s still racing because it’s
conditioned to you racing around, not because there’s anything
particular going on in your consciousness. Mindfulness of these
distractions won’t lead to any great liberation. This is simply a sign
that you need to slow things down. If your life continues as is, it
will be very difficult to attain complete rest and fully quiet the
mind. And if you can’t calm the mind you certainly won’t be able
to get to the point where you can start gaining clarity of mind. Of
course, that’s part of the point of mindfulness. In the beginning,
in order for you to practice mindfulness of anything you’ll have to
do it very slowly. If you’re constantly rushing around, your
mindfulness practice won’t be authentic. You’ll be telling yourself
that you’re practicing mindfulness but you won’t actually be
mindful.

         Computers, smartphones, and TVs aren’t the enemy. But you
do need to be careful not to go overboard. By shining the light of
mindfulness on your life you’ll be able to see clearly the effect
these things have on your mind and body and be able to make the
right decision for your well-being and the well-being of your loved
ones.

          It’s important to establish mindfulness as a way of life as
opposed to simply “something you do sometimes”. By making
mindfulness a way of life you’ll begin to notice how these things
distract you and pull you away from the real beauty of life. You’ll
naturally begin to distance yourself from these devices a bit. A
busy mind is only natural and the modern age has made our minds
more chaotic than ever. But by developing the practice of
mindfulness in your daily life you have the ability to stop, calm,
fully rest, and heal the mind and body which will provide a
renewable source of peace and joy in your everyday life.

 

 

Credit: 

Valentine, Matt. The Little Book of Mindfulness. 2014.

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