I’m having parent challenges this week. My 11-year-old daughter is extremely bright (no, really, she is) and early on was thought to have ADD. Well, that diagnosis was thrown out right away when she was re-assessed based on the Myers-Briggs personality scale. Her counselor and her teachers all determined that her mind moves so quickly that she has a hard time staying focused on the present moment. Maybe that’s why we are sitting here at the kitchen table at 10:30 pm on a school night plowing through last night’s homework assignment. The one she didn’t do because in her head, she was way passed the point of writing down the answers to her teacher’s questions.
I’ve been seeing this a lot lately. And I can only determine that when she is being spoken to (by me, by her teachers), she has gone ahead to some place else. She disengages. She’ll be in the middle of telling me a story and suddenly, quietly, drift off. She stops speaking. I say, “Katie, where did you go?” But she can’t answer. She’s just gone somewhere else. This obviously concerns me because I see a lifetime habit forming. I realize I need to counsel her on staying present, staying with her thoughts, resisting the habit of drifting off to some other place because, in her mind, she’s done with the “now” moment. But who am I to counsel? Truth be told, I do the same thing. I’ll be on my computer engaged in writing something, see a new batch of emails come in, and jump to my Inbox. The Huffington Post, LinkedIn’s Yoga Therapy group, Yoga Alliance, Groupon, Studio Bamboo, Red Pearl Yoga, Facebook updates, a friend I haven’t emailed with in a while, it can go on and on. A particular email will catch my attention and I’ll open it. It may have a link to somewhere else and I’ll go there. That new place may have its own link to yet another place, and I’ll go there. After a while, I’ll find myself swimming in an endless sea of open emails and websites, with no direct attention being paid to any of them. Sound familiar? Please tell me I’m not the only one who gets caught in this vortex of distractions.
That must be why I teach yoga. We teach what we need to learn, and my goodness, I need to learn the fine art of focus and attention. I have no problem with focus when I’m on my mat. Balancing in Vrksasana, or moving through a series of Sun Salutations (with my eyes closed), I can be totally and completely on my mat–all of me–body, mind, and breath. Sadly, life off the mat is another story. There are simply too many interests pulling me in various directions. No wonder most of the projects I plan don’t ever see completion. Do you find yourself in this same situation? Have you mastered the art of complete attention? Even for a brief moment during the day? Do you realize the spiral you’re in after it’s too late, or have you found ways to redirect, slow down, and focus? Please share.