You know how it goes, you start out with all these good intentions, you start developing new habits, writing in your journal everyday, exercising and meditating, but then one day you just don't feel like it. "I'll just take this one day off," you say to yourself, and so you spend an hour or two or three surfing the web or checking messages on your social networks or doing any other largely pointless activities. While you're on the computer, you notice the stack of papers that has accumulated on your desk and you think that you ought to tidy them up. But then you think that there is no need to do it now, you will do it tomorrow. There is always lots of time tomorrow. You go upstairs to read or go outside for a walk, but on your way there you notice that someone has turned the TV on and you allow yourself to get pulled into the show. You don't really care about it, but it's easy entertainment and it's only a half hour show after all. What harm can it do? Tomorrow will be different. Tomorrow you'll get things done.
Distractions are everywhere. They are noisy, colourful, and bright. They beep, flash, and ring. They are insidious, tempting, and relentless. They feed on themselves and once you have given in to one, the others are even harder to resist. But just as there is nothing really wrong with having the occasional gooey, sugary, fattening treat if you eat healthy, nourishing foods most of the time, so there is also nothing wrong with other occasional indulgences - watching TV instead of exercising, staying indoors on a perfectly nice spring day, eating at a fast food restaurant instead of cooking a meal at home, etc. - as long as they remain occasional and don't turn into habits. No one is expecting you to be perfect, so there's nothing wrong with slipping up on occasion. The trouble is, these kinds of activities don't like to remain in the shadows. Give in to something or put something off one day, and it is always so much easier and more tempting to give in to it or put it off the next day as well. How, then, to deal with these constant distractions on the path?
One of the most important concepts within modern Druidry and paganism is, to me, the concept that the sacred is everywhere, and that the small, seemingly ordinary actions of our everyday lives are a part of our spiritual practice just as surely (and perhaps even more so) as are elaborate rituals or ceremonies. When we look at all our possible distractions, it is easy to think that these distractions are things that are coming from elsewhere, that they are pulling us away from our path. But if all is sacred and our everyday life is our spiritual practice, then these "distractions" too are a part of our path. They are distractions on the path, not distractions from the path. What they do is cause us to lose focus, undermine our confidence, and make us think that we are lost and muddled even though we still have our feet, as always, firmly on the path. We are not really lost; we only think that we are.
Recognizing that these distractions are a part of our path, we realize that is is fruitless to try to escape them or overcome them. We cannot escape them since they are always here and if we tried to overcome them all, we would simply be draining our energies. Rather, a better method is simply to learn to live with them. Accept them, and move on. Work with them, not against them. Use them as opportunities to learn more about yourself, and to find the sacred even within the seemingly mundane. Recognize when your energy is low and spend that time reading a novel or practising some slow, relaxing exercises and you will be less likely to be tempted by time-wasting activities. Look within yourself to discover the reasons why you are being distracted. What are you subconsciously trying to escape? Recognize and meet it head on and it will begin to lose its power over you. Realize that you do not need to be a slave to your bad habits, but that at every moment you have the power of choice. You can choose to go for a walk, or you can choose to sit in front of the computer all day. Don't get stuck in damaging routines, but recognize your power of choice. It is when you forget that that you feel stuck or in a rut. Choose to change your life. Choose to take control. Choose to follow your own path. Choose to live mindfully. Choose to live with love for others and, even more importantly, for yourself. And then move on.
(Part of 30 Days of Druidry)
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