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Tea and the Art of Distraction – 4 Easy Steps

I’ve wrote earlier on the ritual preparing and drinking of tea can be used as a training ground for getting present. And that the more present and “awake” we are, the better things get. Whether it’s tea or anything else you can find to wake up, I believe that we need all the weapons available to fight distraction.

Whenever you’re doing something, anything, notice when the pull happens that nags on your attention.


Freedom and productivity arise by waking up to the pull of distraction. And let’s be honest, distraction is addictive because it feels good and pulls us away from the real  challenges we have in life. But distraction also keeps us from living fully, doing great things with our time, and making a real difference in the world.

4 Steps to Dissolving Distraction

1. Whenever you’re doing something, anything, notice when the pull happens that nags on your attention. Notice the pull. Don’t just jump to the shiny new thing. Just notice that limbo state of being drawn out of where you are and toward the new thing. It’s a real razor’s edge. Don’t worry about the pull, but also don’t just jump to the new thing. Sit with it for a second. How does it feel? Just notice it.

2. Take one breath. Inhale and feel the air filling your lungs from down in the belly to up in the throat. Fill your lungs all the way up. Hold it for one second.

3. Exhale all the air out. And with the exhalation, let the pull of distraction go with it. Don’t act on the distraction. Just let the pull evaporate along with the exhalation.

Tea helps foster awareness by simply boiling water, steeping leaves, and sipping.

4. Go back to what you were doing.

The ability to focus and go deep will ultimately be more productive and relaxing, and morale boosting.

There are so many productivity tools and philosophies out there, but it ultimately comes down to our own inner compass and ability to stay on track with whatever we are doing. And the key to that is the ability to be aware. Tea helps foster awareness when brewing and drinking it, but so do many other things. Working out, walking, cooking, and of course meditating all can help make us more aware. We just need to look at them as training grounds for learning to “notice.”

*Bonus Steps
If it doesn’t seem possible to stay focused then ask these two quick questions to yourself–
– Does this shiny new thing, this distraction, have real meaning? If yes, it does have meaning, then will it help me in my life?

If the answer is “yes,” then go for it and the distraction is a good thing!

Regarding Productivity and Daydreaming

Incidentally, I am a firm believer in focused distraction. By that I mean being totally focused on being distracted. There are plenty of studies that point to the real creative value of 100% floating, daydreaming. No cell phone. No computer. Just sitting on a chair with a cup of tea, and looking out the window. Just randomly thinking and letting the mind wander and let anything and everything arise. Try it out and see how it feels. We are so busy being busy, daydreaming is a real luxury that’s 100% free, and available to virtually everyone. Every waking hour of our lives today is filled, so daydreaming  just needs to be scheduled. Do it and see what happens.

This great article from HR World actually points out the real productive gains companies find when encouraging workers to daydream.

And this article from Wired’s Jonah Lehrer which is a part of his essay in the book End Malaria. Really great stuff  – here’s a snippet of what he had to say:

…In recent years, however, scientists have begun to outline the surprising benefits of not paying attention. Sometimes, too much focus can backfire…researchers have found a surprising link between daydreaming and creativity—people who daydream more are also better at generating new ideas. Other studies have found that employees are more productive when they’re allowed to engage in “Internet leisure browsing…

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