What if we remove distractions to better pay attention

We hear the term mindfulness bandied around a fair bit these days. Thinkers are concerned with the philosophy of the mind, scientists are studying the physicality and neuroscience of the brain, and spiritual practitioners swim in the depths of consciousness.

I was listening to a podcast with Ellen Langer on the science of mindlessness and mindfulness and loved what she said: “Mindfulness is the simple practice of actively noticing things.”

This practice of mindfulness is usually associated with meditation, from focusing on objects or the breath, it is an act, a training in paying attention.

Today everything feels busy. We have goals to achieve. Targets to hit. Meetings, meetings and more meetings to sit in. 1 in 4 people feel burned out. Sitting still and reading a book is a rarity. Spending 30 minutes quietly with yourself and no distractions seems to be an impossibility. No wonder our tired evolving brains haven’t caught up with the digital world yet. We spread out attention thinly, cramming them with information and high dopamine experiences without leaving the house.

It’s usually when our body starts to short circuit that we think we need to add something else to make us feel better, as well as beat ourselves up for not being able to cope.

I see people add meditation to the mix and it becomes another thing you have to do. It can really help some, but it’s not for everyone.

What if we could learn to pay attention without meditation?

Maybe being mindful is merely about coming back to our innate and natural state, freeing our mind from distraction.

Maybe by not distracting ourselves, we can make more space.

Maybe by letting all that overthinking fly by, we can feel more freedom from our thoughts.

Maybe a peaceful state of mind is possible to practice without doing something and by just experiencing what it’s like to be.

This post is part of a series of atomic essays on Twitter for #Ship30for30



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