Monday, June 24, 2013

Get Rid of Distractions to Stay Present

I'm back home from my family vacation in Tennessee.  It's nice to be home, and I'm hoping to continue some of the practices and habits I employed while on vacation, in my "regular," daily life. 

On vacation I watch very little TV.  It always seemed like a waste to me, to be on vacation, pretty much anywhere, and sit in your room watching TV shows instead of being outside, in the setting you're vacationing in, around the people you rarely, if ever, are around. 

In Tennessee last week I was pretty much outside from within minutes of waking up, to an hour or so of going to bed.  I would just sit in a chair out in the grass under the trees, or on the porch of my cabin.  Sometimes I blogged, I read a lot, I played games, I spent time with my family members. 

The days were long and short at the same time.  I didn't "work" at all.  Well, except for a few blog posts, if you consider that work.  I didn't really work-out either... except for the slow strolls with my little dog, Betty, who I took with me, around the grounds a couple times a days. 

I was just there.  I did what interested me at the moment.  Whether that was reading a book, working on a crossword puzzle, just sitting with my family talking... I was just doing that.  Whatever that was.  And strangely, despite the lack of "productivity," at the end of every day, I felt good about how I spent my time.

At the end of every day when I went back into my room, I felt good about watching an hour or two of TV... channels I don't get at home (my personal favorites are HGTV and TLC).  It was a relaxing end to a great day.


Then I came home.  And for whatever reason, I immediately felt the "need" to sit in front of the TV.

I caught myself though.  I noticed how I felt.  I was sitting inside yesterday and just felt down.  I didn't feel happy.  I didn't feel connected.  I realized this was because I love being outside. 

Being outside connects me.  My backyard is a decent size and there are some big trees at the back of it.  I sit out on my deck and can hear the birds in the trees.  It's very nice and relaxing. 

So yesterday I turned off the TV and went outside.  I decided to live like I had lived on vacation.  On vacation I didn't feel the need to sit in my room watching TV.  I instantly and easily spent my days outside.  And with technology nowadays, we can do anything outside that we can do inside. 

Once I decided to just live in the moment, and do what I wanted to do at that moment, I enjoyed the day much more!  And I was still productive!  I pulled some weeds, I walked my dogs, I gave Betty a haircut.  I even read some more outside yesterday.  The only times I went inside yesterday were when it got uncomfortably hot in the mid-afternoon (about 90 degrees), and when we had some storms move through. 

And I'm back outside this morning, writing this. 

Distractions are all around us.  They're there.  But we don't have to be there with them.  We don't have to let the distractions distract us from our real and full lives. 

Another thing I did differently was on my drive home on Saturday.  I didn't turn on the radio once.  No music.  Nothing but me in the car with Betty, driving through the country.  For seven hours. 

I sometimes do this at home... drive in silence, with my thoughts.  But rarely is that drive longer than 30 minutes. 

When I started my trek home, I simply wasn't in the mood to listen to music.  I enjoyed the quietness of how I'd spent my week, and didn't want it to end just yet.  So I didn't turn on the radio or any of my CDs that I had listened to repeatedly on the drive down.  I figured I'd listen to them later.  I didn't expect to drive in silence the whole way home. 

But that's exactly what I did.  It wasn't intentional, it was just what I enjoyed at the time.  And here's the thing... the drive home, in silence, felt like it took half as long as the drive there. 


My drive there seemed to drag on forever.  I listened to music the whole way, I kept watching my GPS count down the miles and hours and minutes.  I just wanted to get there.  I was focused on the end, and not the journey. 

But the drive home was the opposite.  I enjoyed the journey.  I took it as an extension of the vacation.  I was much more relaxed.  I enjoyed the scenery.  I rarely glanced at the GPS (except for directions). 

The last hour of the drive was the hardest part.  I could literally feel myself getting sucked back into my "normal" life.  I began thinking of all the things I "needed" to do once I got home and the things I "should" do.  So during that hour it was more of a conscious, repeated reminding of myself to stay present.  To enjoy that part of the drive as well.  That the future moments would take care of themselves.  All I had to do was enjoy the present moment. 

So that's what I'm practicing now at home.  Continuing to stay in and enjoy the present moment.  Follow the energy, as Wayne Dyer says. 

When we get rid of the distractions, or at least don't let them distract us, life is much more enjoyable.  I would have thought, prior to my trip, that listening to the radio would make the car ride go faster.  Or that watching TV would make the days go faster.  But it's the opposite. 

Distractions pull us away from the present moment.  They don't, typically, add to the moment. 

It's one thing to listen to the radio for pure enjoyment, or to watch a TV show, like I did at the end of my days in Tennessee, for pure enjoyment.  That can be relaxing and enjoyable.  The difference is when we turn on the radio or the TV to escape.  To fill the car or our house with noise.  To take up the minutes of our day.  To distract us from whatever it is we're doing, but don't really want to be doing.

That is what I'm going to make a conscious effort to pay attention to.  It's not that I want to give up TV or music.  But I want to give up feeling like I have to watch TV or have to turn on the radio.  I want to give up excuses and distractions... that pull me from the blissful present moment that is always here. 





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