Why minor distractions aren’t minor?
Suppose an army is marching to a disputed territory and has limited stocks of food. If the enemy creates decoys that divert the army, each time the army gets diverted, not only is its progress impeded, but also its food supply gets depleted with the time consumed by each diversion. Thus, when it reaches the border, it will be able to fight for less time, till its food supply gets exhausted. Each diversion in itself might seem minor, but the sum total of those diversions can be consequential, even catastrophic.
Something similar holds true when we strive to focus on achieving something purposeful. Our mind distracts us by urging us to watch this video or read that news or any of a hundred similar things. Each of these diversions might seem minor, consuming just a few minutes. If we waste a few minutes every day, over decades, that will amount to years of lost time.
Moreover, the mind’s diversions also weaken us. Why? Because the mind is a creature of habit. Whatever we do creates an impression within us that impels us to repeat that action. And each repetition of the actions strengthens the impression which pushes us towards a stronger repetition thereafter. Thus, we become entrapped because the mind is an insidious enemy.
Pertinently, the Bhagavad-gita urges us to refocus whenever and wherever the mind wanders (06.26). This means that we strengthen and sharpen our intelligence using spiritual knowledge. Just as an astute army will not get diverted or if diverted will refocus quickly, we need to become astute enough to not get diverted or to refocus quickly. By such repeated refocusing, not only will we progress to our destination steadily, but we will also weaken our distractibility, thereby becoming better resources for elevating ourselves (06.05).
Distractions don’t just delay our progress; they also damage our capacity to progress.
Think it over:
- How can diversions delay us?
- How can diversions damage us?
- How can we strengthen ourselves to face the distracting mind?
06.26: From wherever the mind wanders due to its flickering and unsteady nature, one must certainly withdraw it and bring it back under the control of the Self.