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Mindfulness in an Age of Distraction

It's estimated that the average person now sees about 5,000 ads a day. The all-consuming impact of technology infiltrates your life on a daily basis, and it has a voracious appetite that demands your attention. 

We are living in a new age, not just an age of distraction but a new colonial age where the colonial lords no longer need proxy armies to exploit the resources of others. They have Madison Avenue and multi-media empires instead. And make no mistake about it. They are mining your attention. They will do whatever it takes to get you to buy their product, the next version, the next cell phone, the next video game. So attention itself has become a scare commodity. 

One of the symptoms of this sad state of affairs is your increasing disembodiment. You no longer trust the wisdom of your body, and you've forgotten how to listen to it with patience and respect. Your body, mind and heart are out-of-sync, so things come at you suddenly from out of left field. This is unsettling and bewildering. For some it may be the source of panic attacks. Your fragmented and distracted awareness is the source of much of your anxiety and disconnectedness. 

If you want to take back your life you'll need to reclaim your attention. Mindfulness meditation can help you do that. Mindfulness is a grounded, embodied awareness. Awareness of the breath brings you back into the present and into your body. It helps you sync up your disjointed body, mind and heart. This mindful awareness is the source of healing, health, wellness and a genuine spiritual path of awakening I call living a Zen-inspired life.

Setting aside time to meditate may not be easy. It will require some courage. You've colluded with your colonial masters by using their distractions to run away from yourself. And now you're taking a gigantic step towards personal freedom and social responsibility. It will take time and patience. 

Fortunately there are genuine traditions and teachers and communities to guide you. Seek them out and commit to living the full measure of your humanity. Sanity and wisdom have never left you. But unless you reclaim your attention you'll never trust it. It's the richest resource you have. Don't squander it. And don’t give it away. 

Roshi Robert Althouse

Robert Althouse

Zen Life & Meditation Center, Chicago, 38 Lake Street, Oak Park, IL, 60302