The volume of distractions we face daily needs no introduction. We are all familiar with the onslaughts of information and shiny objects actively vying for our, and often capturing, our attention.
In a recent talk, meditation teacher Tara Brach described how we have habituated to seeking novelty. In other words, this is our new default state. We are past the Pavlovian training of needing to hear a bell before we salivate for our reward; the bell is now internal. Without an obvious trigger to eliminate or silence, breaking this habit is even harder.
Recently a client referred to the moments of succumbing to distractions as moments of “relapse.” Such framing undercuts the nature of the process of expanding the mind’s capacity to focus for longer periods, and is disempowering.
Nature is Cylical
When we look to nature as our guide, we understand that progress is not linear. We are not traveling a straight line from “distracted” to “focused” or from “worse” to “better.”
Nature works in cycles. We have just entered the season of spring in the Northern Hemisphere. We have been here before, in fact every year for millenia. Would we say we have “relapsed?”
Of course not.
We are simply beginning a new cycle.
Do we consider the approaching Passover and Easter holidays a relapse, just because we have celebrated them before?
We know that each time around we get the opportunity to celebrate in a new way.
Each time we travel around the wheel of the year, the cycle of the zodiac, or the seasons of nature we glean new insights.
The tides also work in cycles, and over a long arc of time, the ebb and flow of the tides wears away rocks.
Everything comes around in time.
As Nevine Michaan, the founder of Katonah Yoga says,
Repetition leads to revelation.
It’s the continuous cycle of repetition that, coupled with open-minded curiosity and awareness, leads to the insights that help us to change our patterns.
Nature doesn’t relapse. She reveals.