Shiny Object Syndrome

My week of media fast is over.

To be clear: I didn’t give up media. Instead I just severely limited my access to it through mindfully forgetting my phone in another room, opening only one browser page at a time while working, and consuming just one morning and one evening news program.

I know…that might not sound like much of a fast to you, but in this pandemic year my access to non-stop “Breaking News” scrolls has proven a hard addiction to kick.

Why?

Because I like distraction. I have shiny object syndrome.

Actually, distraction is not bad sometimes. In my meditation practice I set aside a block of time to be undistracted. It’s taken a while to get there with ease. In the beginning I would often only clear my mind for five minutes, start to finish, and have to call that as “good enough.”

But now it’s not as difficult to do, largely because I’ve realized that meditation does not require a distraction-free environment, but rather just requires that the practitioner not fight distractions at all. You don’t fight the thoughts, you embrace them, and they go away. You don’t fight the noise, you embrace it, and it fades into white noise.

But my problem was that, because I have this meditation practice that is (mostly) daily, I count that as checked off the agenda for the day. “Distraction free time? Did that…”

This is what happens when we begin to see spiritual practices as a checklist, rather than a lens through which we live life. I knew I should be incorporating these mindfulness exercises more into my daily life, especially my work-life. I write better with browsers closed, certainly you’d think I’d know that I’d work with more clarity.

I can say with certainty that, this week, I was able to get into flow states of work more than once. It resulted in a lightness to my tasks that I didn’t realize I missed so much. Heading into Friday having accomplished most of what you’ve wanted to is a lovely feeling, and one I’d like to carry forward as much as possible.

One downside to this whole thing, though, is that on more than day I lost my phone for a bit, forgetting where I had intentionally forgotten it.

I can live with that, though…

This week I begin six days being purchase-free. No coffee, no beer, grocery store purchases are acceptable for menu items (though I think I took care of most of that yesterday). No Amazon browsing, no movie purchasing. Nothing.

Should be fun.

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