Life Will Always be Full of Distractions – And That’s Okay

January 18, 2015

My wife and I regularly go to a fast paced yoga class called body flow. Three times a week we are in a classroom at a gym down dogging, shivasinaing and namasteing away. When we went on vacation in the Caribbean over Christmas we were delighted to find that there were yoga classes every morning at our resort. It was a great way to start the day, stretching and bending on the sand looking out over the ocean.

One of the days we were there, though, yoga was scheduled a little later than usual (Christmas Day, actually), at 10 am rather than 8. Not only was it quite a bit warmer at that point, with the sun breaking into our otherwise shady yoga nook, but also the crowds were already filling up the beach. Children were running up and down senselessly, as children are want to do. Wives were hollering at husbands about finding the perfect location while the latter trudged after them with hands piled high in beach towels and sunscreen. Attendants asked after people’s early morning alcohol needs and scrambled to set up their lounge chairs and umbrellas.

All of this hubbub is just part of a Caribbean vacation over Christmas break, and if it’s going to bother a person, he probably should pick a quieter time to visit – like hurricane season. As we were doing yoga and trying to center ourselves, though, I’m sure you can appreciate how this general late morning tumult would become distracting. As I moved from position to position, trying to focus and finding myself a bit miffed by the volleyball rolling towards my warrior two posed left foot, I realized that wanting the environment around me to be calm, centered and free of distractions in this moment was as absurd as wanting that in the natural commotion of the busy day to day at work.

Sure, you can find a quiet place to meditate and relax in life as on vacation, but that place can be described as such precisely in distinction to the rest of life. Life, generally speaking, isn’t quiet and trying to force it to be (or even wanting it to be) isn’t a tenable strategy to achieving focus. Rather than attempt to silence the world around you in vain, try instead to find your focus amidst that noise. It’s easier to say don’t let it get to you than to do so, but the path to focus starts by not being angry at the noise and the distractions and, basically, life for being what they are.

I’m not proposing that you shouldn’t take other steps to focus on what’s important or close your office door when you need to concentrate. I’m merely saying that you can’t force the world around you to be something it isn’t – calm and quiet – and that if you want to focus you’ll have to actualize that by accepting this fact and not sweating it.

The moment I realized that I wasn’t going to quiet the beach at our packed resort, that kids weren’t going to stop throwing things, that couples weren’t going to stop fussing about nonsense, and that cabana boys weren’t going to stop scuttling about with early morning beverages, I felt much better. I breathed. I relaxed. I breathed. I stretched. I breathed. I focused. And then I let go.

To say it was just that easy is laughable, yet this allowed me to enjoy the entire experience in a way that I wasn’t before. It was a wonderful way to start the day and has helped me through many more with a greater sense of calm and focus. I hope it helps you, too.