Moving From Distraction to Focus: Slowing Down & Paying Attention

This is an age of constant distraction.

Our attention endures only the double tap of the Instagram screen. Online, paragraphs are broken into the barest crumbs of one or two sentences.

In today’s yoga, classes have followed suit. What once was standard — a ninety minute class — has shriveled to a mere hour.

Are we really that busy, or have we simply lost the ability to focus?

The Luxury of Paying Attention

For some, it is an utter luxury to extend awareness into a long stretch of uninterrupted peace. We long to savor a slow meal, to be free of a clock and schedule, to sleep when tired and wake when rested.


And yet we save these luxuries for vacation, instead of nurturing them in our daily lives.

So why, when we so long to slow down and be present, do we continue to be so busy?

For most, being busy has become a cloak of protection, shielding against the inner tidal waves of emotion. Culturally, we are taught to “perform” and wear our exhaustion as a badge of success.

When those who’ve built a fortress of frenetic distractions are forced to slow down, they tend to erupt into agitation, anger and any means of drama that will keep them from acknowledging the true source of their most intense pain.

The New Yoga

Are we really better off, then, when our “yoga” has become faster, hotter and louder?

Most of today’s yoga has moved away from the simplicity of practice and only added more distractions: playlists, essential oils, spiritual tee-shirts, the #yogaselfie…

While none of these are wrong in their own right, are they actually helping us move away from distraction and back towards focus?

The new yoga may look more like a gym or a spa than a spiritual practice.

Yoga, Pure And Simple

What would happen if, instead of creating distraction or drama, the intensity of the asana taught us to be better containers for the fire of our inner experience?

Could powerful yoga poses, like Handstand, that demand slow stillness, help us increase our focus?

Wouldn’t learning to stay near the edge of discomfort teach us to be stronger in life, better able to wheel a chariot through the battlefield upon which every single member of our human family is raging?

What if the practice was reduced of all excess, free of distractions and took us beyond busy, to the feet of the sensitive, little one within, and we could be quiet and listen?

What has he or she been waiting, ever so patiently, to say?

In the pure and simple space of yoga, can we focus within and learn to pay attention to ourselves?



Further Reading

Time Poverty – article from The Economist

Being busy is equivalent to “leading a life of significance” – from Quartz

The need to feel productive even in our leisure time – from BBC News