Eliminating distractions isn’t just a one-time thing that you do during your meditation or yoga practice–it’s a way of life. When you practice living a focused, distraction-free life all the time,it will be much easier to spend your time on what really matters. Keeping distractions at bay is a skill only developed through ample amounts of time and intentional practice. Your yoga mat is one of the best places to practice removing distractions and clutter. Take the lessons you learn on your mat out into your daily life once your practice is finished.
Use these specific tips to help you work towards clearing away distractions today:
Unplug electronically: Believe it or not, you don’t always have to have your phone in your hand. Unplugging electronically from time to time is absolutely crucial in learning to live a distraction-free life. Your smartphone alone holds a universe of things that will compete for your attention. Put it aside at set times each day to focus on your intentions and goals.
Clean & clear clutter: Distractions emanate from a messy and cluttered living space. Likewise, a clean, organized living space will inspire you to keep your mind clutter-free and focused.
Get in silence: Not everyone works and focuses best in silent environments. However, you might be surprised to discover what you learn about yourself and the world when you get out in nature and silently observe your surroundings. One of the cons of being plugged in at all times is that we very rarely observe our surroundings with mindfulness and intention. Try turning off the playlist during one of your yoga practices, or find a silent place where you can just be. Then observe what distractions pop up, and how you deal with them in a hyper-focused environment.
Make checklists for later: When those pesky thoughts and to-do lists pop into your mind, it’s tempting to either run-around scatterbrained trying to get it all done, or be dragged away to drown in your mind’s ever flowing river of thoughts. If you receive a task, or think of something you need to get done, write it down on a designated checklist and move on. Don’t let it distract you. Don’t let it have power over you. Just put it on the paper, and come back to the checklist at set times per day.
Exercise: Exercise releases all sorts of good-for-you chemicals that are scientifically proven to help you focus, prioritize tasks, and work efficiently. It also boosts your mood, which makes you excited and passionate about reaching your goals. The added levels of happy chemicals in your brain will give you a power boost to fight off distractions like it’s nobody’s business. This might mean making time for a few sun salutations before your meditation practice, or moving through a vigorous yoga flow before hitting the 9-5 office job.
Focus on breath: Focusing on your breath is one super simple way you can say ‘no’ to distractions. If you find yourself becoming overwhelmed by distractions and starting to slip away from your intentions, simply stop everything and breath. Focus everything on your breath. Feel the way the breath enters your lungs, and feel the release of stress expulsed when you exhale. When all points of focus seem to be too distant to reach, stop and focus everything on the breath. Your breath will give you the power to fight off distractions and get back to your original intent.
Distractions come and go from our lives all day long, every day. The bad news is that you will never get a break from the unceasing distractions that come your way on any given day.
The good news, however, is that each and every one of these distractions only has the power to lure you away if you let it.
Distractions only have the meaning that you designate to them. Be patient with yourself, and remember that it’s all a journey.
With time and practice, you will notice distractions having less power over your practice and life, both on and off the mat.