the mindfulness trap

When you cultivate your sensitivity to the world around you, you leave yourself particularly open to seduction, and once you fall in it can take a long time to get out.

People who pursue mindfulness in their every day life do their best to rid themselves of distractions and especially unnecessary noise. We come to relish quiet more than most and take deeper pleasure in small things that we typically ignore.

This is all absolutely wonderful, but there’s a trap lurking around the corner for us, and it’s in the form of mass media. Put simply, we so starve ourselves of distractions that when we do come upon them, we have one of two reactions:

  • Oh what’s this?

A successful mindfulness practice doesn’t shun these kinds of distractions. Here I’m talking about things like television, movies, commercials, YouTube, etc. It’s fun to watch a ball game. I do it frequently. It’s an easy way to spend time with your family, and that’s very important.

Are there better ways to spend time with loved ones? Of course. Is life perfect? Not in the sense that it follows every rule you can think of, no.

A successful mindfulness practice will come back to itself after these forays out into the seductive world of media designed for people with much less sensitivity to sensory inputs than you. That’s always the kicker. Your mindfulness exercise continues to be successful so long as you keep returning to it.

One easy way to return to it? Savor a breath. Breathe in through your noise, and out, and then in and just hold it and look around. Get away from any screens. Think about what the room you’re in would be like if it were empty. If you’re outside, look around and notice where the trees grow, where the sun beats down. Close your eyes for a moment and think about the air in your lungs. Exhale and you’re back.

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