Distractions – What Are They?
From time to time, we all seem to get distracted, yet have we taken the time to really figure out what that means?
According to Webster’s dictionary, there are two main meanings, very similar in nature. The first is, “Something that makes it difficult to think or pay attention.” And the second states, “Something that amuses or entertains you so that you do not think about problems, work, etc.”
So, what are we trying to avoid? How do we discern if it’s our ego that’s pulling us off course or if it’s the essence of the soul urging us towards something greater? A good rule of thumb is that the ego’s thoughts jump around. For example, I’m feeling hungry. I wonder what my sister is up to? Is that the neighbor mowing his grass? I can’t believe that woman across the street has the nerve to date her best friend’s ex may be a few of the ego’s ideas. And the list goes on.
Listening to the Soul
When the soul is speaking, there is a single voice, one that doesn’t waiver. It may suggest different ideas about a certain topic, however the core idea or reason will stay the same. This voice is focused and doesn’t seek to amuse us or entertain us, it seeks to guide us in a direction that provides for our soul’s fulfillment and purpose.
Taking a break
Again, according to Webster’s dictionary, taking a break means to separate into parts or pieces. Sometimes it’s necessary to stop, regroup and then restart or to separate your work into segments. Working and taking brief breathers can actually enhance creativity and insight.
Breaks vs. Distractions
The high technological world in which we live provides many distractions. Just checking emails can take us down a rabbit hole of unproductive time. Before we know it, we can spend hours on the computer and still not get through our original task of checking emails.
Friends sending links to cute videos, informative articles about everything under the sun and notes of inspiration are just a few of the distractions or things that amuse or entertain us. After perusing through a pile of emails and discarding, deleting, delegating or deferring them, do we feel any better? Or do we deepen our awareness that we haven’t accomplished anything?
Is it unhealthy to take a break from developing a new script or researching an article when a friend calls just to catch up? Or perhaps the fridge is calling out your name? Taking a break is very healthy for your brain. Emptying out your thoughts is a great way to make room for new ideas and insights. Just be mindful on what you do on your break.
In a recent study led by Mary Helen Immodino-Yan at the University of Southern California, it was determined that downtown is essential to healthy brain functioning. “Downtime is in fact essential to mental processes that affirm our identities, develop our understanding of human behavior and instill an internal code of ethics.” It is vital to integrating information that has recently been introduced to the brain. In essence it enhances the learning process.
The old adage, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy,” is certainly not an empty statement. We just need to be mindful of how we direct our thoughts and brain activity when taking a break.
Just 15 minutes of clearing your mind can physically change the chemical composition of your brain. Focused breathing exercises, a walk in the park or around the block can give your mind the break it needs. Meditation is another great way to empty out thoughts so that new empowering ones can appear.
However, when you choose to zone out in front of the television or gorge yourself on chocolate cake, your distraction may lead to feelings of lethargy, gluttony and even self-loathing. Don’t get me wrong, an occasional marathon movie day in front of the TV might be ok as long as it is just that, occasional and not a habit. If it is the norm, there is probably something in your world you are trying to avoid.
Here are a few ways to make sure your breaks are mindful and healthy and don’t become distractions:
1. Does it promote my overall well-being?
2. Will it leave me with a sense of taking care of myself?
3. Does it come from a place of love?
4. Is it something that is short-term so I can resume my initial task with ease?
5. Is it done out of desire and not out of a feeling of obligation?
6. Does it clear and reset my mind after just a few minutes?
7. Do I feel on track or does it make me feel pulled off course?
8. Am I releasing old thoughts that no longer serve or am I re-hashing negative conversation or self-talk?
Once you take a break and return to your task or purpose, you should feel a sense of renewal and refreshment. And, if by chance you get off track, know you can always start again. Just be mindful on your journey.
For more information on meditation and using the theta brain wave, click here to email Melissa.