All that is love and all that is fear can be twisted into distractions by our minds.
We can clearly perceive how food, alcohol, drugs, gambling, or whatever other addictions have entered our minds are coping techniques based on distraction. We grow uncomfortable with what we feel or think in a moment, or we become distressed by the situation we find ourselves in the world, and so we flee away from it to find emotional numbness.
The spiritual practices of meditation and prayer are foundational and essential, but they can also become methods by which we avoid the current moment. Anything that we might deem positive and productive – exercise, work, creative endeavor – can be used as a distraction away from the current moment. Even mindfulness itself, attention to the current moment, is subject to misuse as distraction – by focusing wholly on the green field, we might seek to avoid a creeping sadness in our hearts.
Attempting to focus on love without letting the light of awareness fall upon the dark shadows of fear in our minds leaves the wounds unhealed. Although there’s nothing wrong with distracting ourselves for a time when we become overwhelmed, we must return to our wounds and occupy them if they are to heal.
When our addictions whisper insidiously in our heads, distracting ourselves simply buries the whispers. We must mentally speak back to the addictions, saying truthful things that change our internal weather, and then sit in silence as the tide surges and finally drains away.
When our physical pain begins to surface, distracting ourselves turns the bodily wound into a mental one. We must mentally encourage ourselves to bolster our patience and strength, and then allow ourselves to fully feel the pain so that it becomes a house guest simply staying with us for a while.
When arguments, mistakes, and criticism makes our faces flush and drives us into numbness or external comfort-seeking, we must mentally take a moment to nurture ourselves, and then let the old psychic wounds come into awareness so that they can be finally released.
The world and our essences, every one of us, is love. The substance of creation is love; love is the waters that upwell from God and within ourselves. So long as we use distractions without occupying our bodies, emotions, and minds – we will never come to know ourselves. We will slumber on, at the very entrance to the Kingdom.
The spiritual practices of meditation, prayer, and mindfulness all focus on the current moment – this single instance of place and time that is your unique vantage point in temporal space. Just here, just now includes not only the physical environment, breath, and body – but also your thoughts and emotions. The concepts of health, wholeness, and holiness are inextricably intertwined and are a particular state of mindfulness – one that only arises if you occupy your consciousness through the healing processes.
In our culture, we admire single-minded dedication and pursuit of “success” in roles – the great businessman, the famous actor, the impressive athlete, the wonderful parent, the accomplished craftsman or artist. But these roles have nothing whatsoever to do with happiness, goodness, or light. Success or failure in a given field is immaterial to our essential humanity. Wholeness and holiness outpour in compassion, kindness, and love – these are essential humanity and should be the ideals we pursue, if we must define the mountains to be climbed.
After the distractions dissolve and we become untwisted inside, we begin to be free and full beings. It is then that we begin our dialogues with the infinite One and start to explore the mystery and grace of creation.