Electric Shocks or Sitting Quietly? Which would you choose?

Distraction has its merits. Life can be intense. Physical and emotional pain and the stress of daily life often hold our attention, making it hard to focus on anything else. When we distract ourselves in a balanced way, we can temporarily step outside of the confines of our routine thought patterns, set aside our worries, and perhaps be diverted from the sensation of chronic aches and pains. Shifting gears at the end of the day (or whenever we need it) and “distracting” ourselves with a conversation, exercise, a book, a walk in the woods, or even TV or a phone app, can be helpful ways to disengage from life’s stressors.

However, when distraction becomes our way of being, the only way we feel comfortable existing, we have a problem. For many people simply sitting quietly has become deeply uncomfortable. As a society we are accustomed to constant distraction. Silence is rare. Screens are everywhere. The distractions they provide sometimes help us wind down, but often wind us even tighter. The blue light of many electronic screens has been linked to an increased rise in insomnia, especially for children and adolescents, who are even more likely than adults to keep their phone in the bedroom (with the sound turned on) while they sleep.

A recent article in the Washington Post documents a study published in Science magazine that found most men would rather give themselves electric shocks than be alone with their thoughts. Participants were instructed to simply let their minds wander and think about whatever they wanted, essentially to do nothing but be in their own company without external distraction for between 6 and 15 minutes. This was so intolerable…READ MORE.

As always, please feel free to contact me with questions or comments, or to schedule a session.

Wishing you a peaceful heart,

Mara

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