To Focus Through Distraction, Make Your Distractions Bigger

Meditation has taught me a few things:

  1. Meditation is really hard.
  2. My mind can go to some weird dream-like places in waking hours.
  3. I meditate best when I am powerfully distracted

Number 3 has been a surprising finding.

The reason I re-started regular meditation was my realization that the stresses of work were causing me to lose my center and fly off the handle from time to time. I meditate to remain calm through the ups and downs of the workday.

When I meditate on days I’m confronting these stresses, my meditation sessions are much more focused and less clouded with wandering thoughts. Ironically, it’s much easier to focus through a meditation session and center myself when I’m confronted by a very big distraction like work stress. The distraction provides the impetus/motivation for me to desire to focus on something better than the distraction.

When I feel like I have my workday pretty well handled, or when I don’t feel the stresses of work, meditation becomes actually more difficult. My mind rebels.

This experience gives the lie to the idea that focus is the result of a lack of external distractions. In fact, a lack of external distractions can make focus harder.

Having a rival or enemy helps you to become better. Similarly, having a large enough distraction will help you to become more focused on bringing distractions to heel through practices like meditation – but also through prioritization, action, or delegation.

If you want to be more focused, become more distracted.

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James Walpole is a writer, startup marketer, intellectual explorer, and perpetual apprentice. He opted out of college to join the Praxis startup apprenticeship program and currently manages marketing and communications at bitcoin payment technology company BitPay. He writes daily at jameswalpole.com.

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