The sparkling white of new-fallen snow is a welcome visitor this morning after the blackout of yesterday’s storm. I love the way snowdrifts add a feminine feel to the landscape with their smooth lines and gentle curves – gifts from Mother Nature that soften the harshness of winter.
Sitting by the window, I placed my computer on my lap to start writing when I realized it was my niece’s birthday. I picked up my phone to text her a message and suddenly remembered a book I wanted to send to my friend Julianne. I opened an app, ordered the book, and then stopped into Instagram to see if my Mermaid friends had taken a dip in the ocean today. Twenty minutes later, having been pulled down the rabbit hole of social media, I remembered my niece and the forgotten text. I quickly sent her a birthday message and put the phone down.
This is our lives, I thought to myself as I stared at the device that can easily hijack my attention. One stolen moment after another, lost in a world of distraction.
Did you know that research by Michael Posner at the University of Oregon – a doctor who studies attention and self-regulation – shows that if you’re focusing on something and you get distracted (by someone else or by turning your attention elsewhere), it will take you, on average, twenty-three minutes to get back to where you were? Twenty-three minutes to regain your focus again!
If you multiply that times the number of interruptions most of us experience during the day it’s a wonder we get anything done at all.
I learned about this study from a book I’ve just started reading by Johann Hari called Stolen Focus and after finishing just the introduction, I’m even more convinced that developing the ability to direct our awareness (e.g., meditation) is a crucial skill for these times.
Our attention has been hijacked by machines, by algorithms, and by a 24-hour sensational news cycle. It’s also held hostage by curated social media feeds designed to keep us angry, frustrated, envious, and scared because those states will also keep us firmly glued to the screen.
I’m not interested in squandering my attention which is why I’m reading Hari’s book and continuing to be a strong advocate for the practice of meditation.
When you learn to direct your consciousness, you’re able to direct your life.
To that end, this week we’re at it again. On Wednesday, February 2nd at 4pm ET/1pm PT, I’ll be hosting a Zoom Gathering designed to help you learn helpful ways to make meditation a daily practice. The gathering is free (so you’re welcome to share the link when you receive it) and it’s your invitation to be part of a community of people who are committed to reclaiming their quality of life.
If you registered for the last gathering, you’ll automatically get the new Zoom link. If not, you can sign up to get the link here.