Distraction and Boredom Are Tools of Discovery

Jeff Kidman

Legacy Discovery Shaman Jeff Kidman brings to you exercises you can undertake anywhere, at a time that works for you. For the man on a men’s team, in a men’s group or out there on his own. The intention of these exercises is to bring you into greater connection to something bigger, so that you can broaden your context, reach your highest potential and ultimately be more successful in the endeavors that matter to you and those you influence.

kidman3Some weeks ago I wrote a note to myself to write about the role of distraction. Then I ran across a TED talk about how important boredom is and another article about setting aside time for deep work. All three of these thoughts strike a similar chord for me. To truly connect with our true self, we need to be distracted from the daily onslaught of e-mail, podcasts, music and texts.

We need to create some space and time for our mind to wander and make connections that we wouldn’t otherwise make. We need time to allow our mind to exercise all the variety of things that are running around in there.

When I was a boy, walking to school was a mostly silent occupation. There was time to look at the trees, appreciate the suburban homes I passed daily and think many thoughts. Now almost all of us have a smart phone with the whole world of music, sound and news connected to it. If we consciously create time where we have perhaps one focus, or even no focus at all, we can allow our brains to be more creative and productive. Other times this practice can serve to complete, connect and flush out the various thoughts that we don’t complete during our busy multi tasking days.

One way to create some time to allow the mind to wander is by walking. I have heard this called a “walking meditation” in some practices as well. The first step is to find a place to walk. I often walk at the indoor track at my YMCA. I also do this in my neighborhood sometimes. Plan a route in advance, or time yourself, so you don’t have to decide anything while walking.

No earbuds, Bluetooth or speakers allowed. As you begin walking, let your attention wander to the surroundings. Keep a steady pace, perhaps letting your arms swing as well. Observe the wind in the trees or kids playing basketball as you walk by. Notice your steps and how your feet feel. Notice what all your feelings are at the moment. Let the thoughts in your mind come and go, and make a practice of not letting one topic stay too long. Let them come and go like there is a summer breeze moving the thoughts out as soon as they form.

Let one thing lead to another. If you find yourself dwelling on one topic, take a breath and exhale, letting the thoughts go with the breath. You can also time your breath to the steps you are taking. Breathe in for three steps, and breathe out for three steps. You can also think of this as being bored.

With a purpose!

Then see what connections your mind has come up with by the end of your walk.


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