Free Your Pen

Buddhist Writing Prompt: Practice When You’re Distracted

Practice when you’re distracted is about remembering to be mindful of whatever is happening and not allowing yourself to get distracted. And when you do get distracted, to use the distractions as part of your practice.

The original lojong slogan is: If you can practice even when distracted, you are well trained. When you sit down to meditate, the mind often reacts to the stillness and silence by going absolutely ballistic. This is normal – there’s nothing wrong with you for your mind being this way.

The mind is highly distractible by nature. In the past it would have helped us to stay alert to possible threats while out hunting sabre-toothed tigers and mammoths, it kept us on our evolutionary toes. Without the distractibility of the mind we wouldn’t have survived for long.

So this slogan is acknowledging the fact that you can’t stop the mind from being distracted – it’s going to happen. It’s in the nature of the mind to be distracted, so you have to work with it.

So practice when you’re distracted – i.e. all the time.

Apply this slogan to your writing practice by looking into how and why you get distracted. Are you using the many distractions of modern life as an excuse to avoid writing? If so, why?

This slogan encourages you to write through the distractions. Don’t use them as excuses to avoid writing, and don’t wait for life to provide perfect distraction-free time for you to play with your muse. You can’t wait for the muse, or silence – you have to write anyway.

Practice staying focused and committed to your work even when your life is full of distractions. Mindfully deal with your daily routines, the comings and goings, and the technology that eats into your attention and time. Switch off your phone and the internet, if need be.

And if you are using distractions as an excuse to avoid writing – write anyway. Write when you don’t feel like writing. Write when you have problems in your life. Write when you doubt yourself. Write even when you think you can’t write – write about why you think you can’t write, at least then you’re writing something.

Your writing prompt this weekend: What are the major causes of distraction in your life? Include outer and inner distractions, and write about them in your slogan journal.

More in the book: Free Your Pen: Mind Training for Writers


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