Living Mindfully in a Distracted World

Person sits on sofa in waiting room, talking loudly on phone while others try to workMy gym offers a 7 a.m. yoga class twice a week. Since it is included in my membership, I attend regularly. Unfortunately, the gym doesn’t have the space to accommodate a quiet yoga studio, so class is held on the second floor in the midst of the treadmills and other cardio machines. One recent morning, the instructor started class by turning on relaxing music, despite the buzz of treadmills and heavy breathing in the background. While we started to focus on our breath, a man came into our space and set up shop for his deadlift routine literally one foot from my yoga mat. The instructor and I looked at each other quizzically, and those of us in the class tried to continue with our routine. But all concentration was lost as this member walked back and forth between our mats, grabbing more weights for his workout. Needless to say, the class was a bust and we left feeling frustrated and annoyed—the opposite of yoga’s teaching!

Do you have a similar tale of mindlessness? I’d bet every person reading this could provide at least one example of how they experienced someone else’s unmindful behavior. Maybe a pedestrian walked into you because they were busy looking down while texting, or perhaps someone parked their car crookedly, not leaving room for you to pull in to an adjacent space. In our modern society, this sort of careless behavior is all too common.

There are many possible explanations for distracted behavior, especially in our overwhelming world of electronics. But issues ranging from attention-deficit hyperactivity (ADHD), to substance use, to medical conditions, to, in extreme cases, personality conditions could be the culprit. And it’s fair to say the me-first mind-set being perpetuated by influential people in our country via social media isn’t helping. Whatever the reason, the neglectful behavior of others is not only exasperating and maddening, it can also be a safety issue. If someone is heedless driving a car while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, then they are not only risking their life, they are risking the lives of others on the road.

Being mindful doesn’t come easy; it takes practice, especially with all the distractions we contend with. But with some attentiveness, we can become more aware and connected, and in so doing, we can affect positive change in our world.

While we can’t change the behaviors of others (as much as we’d like to!), we can be aware of our own actions and how they might affect those around us. Mindfulness is a trendy word right now—it can be heard in yoga and meditation practices as well as in therapy sessions—but the practice has been around for ages. Mindfulness is a specialty in Buddhism which helps produce a greater sense of awareness and connection to the people and world around us. According to Mindful.org, mindfulness is “the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.”

To quote American astrophysicist, author, and scientist Neil deGrasse Tyson, “We are all connected. To each other, biologically. To the earth, chemically. To the rest of the universe, atomically.” Everything in the physical world, including people, animals, plants, rocks, water, and weather, is inseparable. Because we are not living separately but in unison, we have a responsibility to one other and to the world around us to be thoughtful and cognizant.

Being mindful doesn’t come easy; it takes practice, especially with all the distractions we contend with. But with some attentiveness, we can become more aware and connected, and in so doing, we can affect positive change in our world.

Here are some questions to ponder and respond to in the comments section below:

  • How do you respond to other people’s unmindful actions?
  • What would life be like if more people were mindful?
  • In what ways can you be more aware today?

References:

  1. Astarte, R. (2014, July 11). We are all connected. It’s physics, man. Retrieved from https://www.elephantjournal.com/2014/07/we-are-all-connected-its-physics-man
  2. Buddhist teachings on mindfulness. (2017, July 17). Retrieved from https://www.lionsroar.com/buddhist-teachings-on-mindfulness
  3. Higgins, F. (2011, July 7). We are all connected. Retrieved from https://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-2724/We-Are-All-Connected.html
  4. What is mindfulness? (2014, October 8). Retrieved from https://www.mindful.org/what-is-mindfulness

© Copyright 2017 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved. Permission to publish granted by Andrea M. Risi, LPC, therapist in Denver, Colorado

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Charlotte

    Charlotte

    October 30th, 2017 at 6:48 AM

    Doesn’t it just bug the fire out of you when there are people who are so inconsiderate and rude- they are only looking out for one thing and that is themselves. They don’t have any qualms about disrupting anything for anyone else, it’s all about them. Grrrr

  • Andrea Risi

    Andrea Risi

    October 30th, 2017 at 10:09 AM

    I understand your frustration, Charlotte! While we can’t change the behaviors of others, we can control how we respond to them. How can you keep those actions from eating away at your peace?

  • Billy

    Billy

    October 30th, 2017 at 11:26 AM

    Becoming in tune with the fact that we are all somehow interconnected with one another is a huge jump for some people to take, and for those who live life selfishly versus mindfully, I am not sure that they would ever be able to grasp that very realization.

  • Andrea Risi

    Andrea Risi

    October 31st, 2017 at 8:09 AM

    Thank you for your input, Billy! While it may be true that some people do not see that we are all connected, I hope those of us who do will continue to live mindfully.

  • Charlotte

    Charlotte

    October 31st, 2017 at 11:32 AM

    Well I have tried to no avail to tune them out… and yeah, that doesn’t work so well for me. I have tried telling myself that they know not what they do… and then I think but they should!
    Really, if everyone else would get themselves together I think that I would be good to go ;)

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