Why mindfulness matters, now more than ever

7 Comments September 27, 2014 / Posted in Meditation, Mindfulness
Camaldolese Hermitage-Big Sur

Camaldolese Hermitage-Big Sur

The following blog was written by a dear friend, Tom Stacey of TheWordsmith.com. I worked for a number of years with Tom for 4 years at Vistage. A man of many talents attested to by wide and varied background:

— Web content strategy and execution– Messaging via social channels: blogs, Facebook, G+, Twitter, LinkedIn, drip email campaigns, landing pages, sales letters, SEO, landing-pages– Brand presentation, evangelism, customer retention — Online client experience, building social networks, marketing strategy, publishing — Internal and external communications: concept and production of branded print, Web, video, and audio content — Copywriting: e-mails, letters, Web pages, collateral, articles, blog posts, books, ebooks — Collaborate to create remarkable stories that resonate with targeted audiences

by Tom Stacey
No wonder you’re distracted:

In the last second, 6,000 new tweets went up.
In the last minute, 100 hours of new video were posted on YouTube.
In the last year, 292,000 new books were published, just in the U.S.

That’s the tip of the iceberg. The crazy thing? Almost none of this content matters to you or me. Yet the rivers of distraction are always raging, beckoning us to wade into our Facebook or LinkedIn news stream, into the depths of Netflix or Amazon Prime, into every targeted, branded long-tail torrent of data and blather that’s now at our fingertips.

In this ocean of noise, what does matter? How do you avoid wasting minutes, hours, your time — the coin of your life — on so much stuff that’s in your face, yet has no value to you? You already know: The answer is not out there, it’s within.

Recently I decided to try an iPhone app called Headspace, through which an Englishman named Andy guides you through a daily meditation designed to increase your mindfulness.

Can ‘mindfulness’ really help you maintain your focus?

I had a time-efficient way to test Headspace. Since starting a new job I’ve been riding the San Diego Coaster, which zooms above the spectacular beaches of Encinitas and Del Mar, and along Interstate 5. Now that I’m not white-knuckling my way up and down the freeway every day, I’ve been taking advantage of that 40-minute commute. I read, listen to podcasts, and lately, instead of falling straight into the always-on global data stream, I’ve been turning on Headspace and letting Andy guide my breathing and thoughts.

So, what happens when you close your eyes and focus your attention inward while you’re hurtling down the coastline in a train at 90 miles an hour? First, you notice every creak, squeak, screech and groan. Every jiggle, jostle and rumble registers. You realize what a noisy, bumpy ride this is. But when you keep returning your focus to your breath, those noises and sensations gradually recede, to an outer layer of your awareness.

There’s value in just this — realizing that you can control your focus. You discover that you can live with the annoying squeak, you can actually put it completely out of your mind. As you can with every other thought or sensation. Once you experience this, it’s not a big leap to grasp how easily we allow ourselves to become distracted. Hooked. Preoccupied. Triggered. Obsessed. Addicted.

Yes, the entire spectrum of Things That Keep You From What Really Matters. Which begs the question: What does really matter? That’s up to you of course, but you can’t decide that until you allow yourself to be in the moment, untethered from the past, unbound by the future.

None of this is new if you’re into mindful meditation. You know that being in the moment might mean feeling scared or anxious or nervous or pissed. But when you’re mindful, you recognize those as passing states.

You don’t have to bury the anxious thought in a place where it will eventually come back as a monster that ties you in knots. Nor do you have to gloom on to outrage, judgment or any of the other unwanted states you might have found yourself inhabiting in the past. You can decide that those places are not where you want to live.

As for Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and all the other places where we compulsively hunt for the latest: Now you see the hooks. People have gotten very good at baiting those hooks. As Pema Chodron says, you don’t have to bite.

Easier said than done, right? The start is being more aware of your awareness. It’s working for me — how about you?

7 Comments... What do you think? Subscribe via RSS
  1. Rebecca_FeltBallRug said on November 6th, 2014 at 9:25 pm

    Thanks for sharing this post written by Tom. It is such good insight into why mindfulness is so important. And he states towards the end, “None of this is new if you’re into mindful meditation”; which may be true, it may be easier to recognize why meditation and mindful living is so important but unfortunately that doesn’t necessarily make it all that much easier. It is still a conscious decision everyday and reminders are important and necessary!

  2. Randy Rosenthal said on November 14th, 2014 at 5:04 pm

    Thanks for all that you do!

    Here is a collection of fun, quick, quirky, typewriter-written mindfulness tips for the instant gratification crowd https://www.facebook.com/Mindfulnessdoesntsuck

  3. Giovanni Dienstmann said on December 25th, 2014 at 7:51 am

    Yeah, technology and Internet are multiplying our choices and distractions. I think now, more than ever, it’s important to learn how to control our minds and focus on what is really essential for us.

  4. Sean Fargo said on December 30th, 2015 at 1:41 am

    I really like this resource that has hundreds of free mindfulness exercises, talks, meditations and worksheets: http://www.MindfulnessExercises.com

  5. Sandra said on October 9th, 2016 at 11:45 pm

    An older post, but just as relevant today. Mindfulness keeps your focus in the present moment and as such, keeps you from distraction, from anxiety and worry about something that might or might not actually happen. https://wellnesshubnova.com/mindfulness-and-meditation/

  6. Mimosa Crafts said on January 28th, 2017 at 4:53 am

    Thanks for sharing a great article.With the advancement and development of new technology, our life has become better but still hard to take control over stress.

  7. Ozzie Gontang said on March 8th, 2017 at 7:02 pm

    Sandra, Thanks for sharing. Much appreciated.

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