Distractions as support

 

There are (at least) two main ways of relating to distractions, especially in the context of any form of body-centered, psychological or spiritual exploration.

One is to see distraction as a distraction, and bring attention back to wherever the practice tells us it is supposed to be. This can be helpful in its own way, although can also easily become a subtle battle and create an I-Other split (I as stable attention and the belief that stable attention is desirable, and Other as distraction.)

Another is to work with distraction, see how it is a gift, and follow its invitation for exploration. When attention is distracted, it is only because a story comes up that is seen as juicy, charged, and is believed in. Distraction is then a very valuable sign post, pointing directly to a belief. So we can take its invitation, allow it to go to the belief, become more conscious of the belief, take it to inquiry, and also be with whatever emotions it trigger in a heartfelt way. In that way, distraction becomes a precious teacher and pointer.

The first approach has its benefits in encouraging mindfulness and stable attention, but it also does have an element of struggle and working against the grain. Distraction very easily appears as a disturbance, an Other.

The second is in many ways a far more skillful approach, going to the root of what is behind distraction, investigating it, and allowing it to fall away. Here, distraction becomes a support.

In the absence of a belief in a story, there is no draw for attention to go to the inside of the story and be absorbed into it (unless it has a practical purpose, for this human self in the world). It arises as anything else, is recognized as a thought, and is free to live its own life, which is brief when it is not fueled by beliefs. It arises within the naturally clear awareness, as as a brief form of awareness itself.

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