Coping with Distractions
DISTRACTIONS will remain with us till the end of our lives though the nature of them may alter as we go on. The nature of distractions (like the nature of dreams) can tell us a lot about ourselves in relation to God. In essence there are two general ways of dealing with distractions. We can gently, without any sense of anger or frustration, turn our minds back to the task in hand. Alternatively, and this is a matter for individual judgement, we could take the ‘distractions’ as not distractions at all but as matters of importance to us that God may wish us to give our attention to and PRAY about them before turning back to the task in hand (or sometimes letting the ‘task in hand’ go completely).
ATTENTIVENESS TO BREATHING is a further way of countering distractions - to give total attention to our breathing for a short while when a distraction comes to us before returning to whatever we were trying to do in our prayer. This is especially helpful if we are using only a single word or a short phrase in a contemplative way, for we can simply transfer our attention from the breathing to 'breathing in' our word or phrase so that it becomes assimilated in the very depths of our being. Many Christians would say that simple attentiveness to breathing is a kind of prayer in itself. Breath in the Old Testament is a symbol of the life God gives us. Without breathing we would be dead! As we breathe we breathe in the very life of God himself.