Live with distractions

Lately I am more aware of the distractions in my life – my head filled with the voices, choices and opinions of others – making me lose contact with my inner guidance, drowning out the still small voice from my soul. However, I have learned to go with the flow, be fully present and embracing all that comes my way, instead of resisting them and going into a denial of the presence of these distractions.

Franz Metcalf shared: We all get distracted by little things. We feel we should be pursuing this or that Big Plan, yet we get swept away in the current of events. (Perhaps this sweeping away is why we call them ‘current’ events.) As the adage goes: ‘Life is what happens to you while you’re making other plans.’

An extract taken from Buddha’s teachings (Record of Yunmen, Pilgrimage Record 284) gave an account of a dialogue between two Zen masters:

Tiantong said: “If you haven’t understood, you get involved in everything around you.” Master Yunmen countered: “If you have understood, you get involved in everything around you!”

This dialogue explore this question of distraction. Tiantong expresses many of our sentiments about distraction being a problem. Yunmen of course knows this is true. But rather than simply agreeing with that important but obvious truth, he counters with something deeper. He says if you have truly understood reality, you still get involved in all the distractions of life because they are truly what life is. Life is lived in the present moment, with all its richness, its blooming, buzzing confusion. If we aren’t involved in the distractions, we aren’t involved at all.

But this doesn’t mean you have to drop the Big Plan. Just remember the Big Plan is made up of little experiences.

It is our responses to the distractions that will make the difference in how we live in the present moment. We can get flustered by them, sending us further into a tailspin that may put us out of alignment with our chosen paths, or we can embrace them fully and learn more about life. Know for certain that how we respond to these distractions reveals a lot about who we are.

Take notice of the daily distractions in your life, but more importantly, keep a log of how you respond to them. These occurrences can be mirrors of great discoveries of who we are in the school of life.

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