Mindfulness and Distraction

I’m sitting on the train. It is a glorious sunny afternoon. The day doesn’t feel so late now that the clocks have gone back, the days are longer and I’m no longer leaving the office in darkness. With that comes a refreshed feeling when 5pm comes.


I look around the train and note how many people are glued to their phones. I too would be one of them. But not today. Only because my battery has already died.


The carriage is quiet and despite being busy is rather peaceful apart from the odd voice talking on the phone. Most people are distracted.


I look out of the window at the blue sky and the golden light from the sunshine. I notice how there are hardly any clouds in the sky. I notice how the light is reflected from the water of the canal that we are running parallel to. The water is mostly still but sometimes it has a very gentle rippled texture to it in places and this causes the light to shimmer and dance beside me. I see how the light catches corners and crevices of buildings and showing details that I had never seen before. My eyes dart around as the former industrial metropolis darts past my view. Having been born and raised in the Black Country, the Industrial heart of the country at one time, I carry a pride of what was and this keeps me sentimental about the old factory buildings we pass.


The vista is constantly changing, moving and with the moving scene so too does my perspective.


Once again I look into the carriage and notice how much everyone else appears to be enraptured in the generic, boring status updates and monotonous bullshit that seems to be forever displayed on the Facebook or Twitter feed. I see them scrolling with their thumbs. They are wired into the grid. They are battery hens cooped up tightly on the train, glued to their phones, all holding them the same way. Curled over. Blank, expressionless zombies. Slaves to Zuckerbergs monster and other social media. Well, that is most except the Chinese bloke sat next to me who is going to sleep. Look at what they are missing, I think as I turn to look out of the window again. Life is passing them by. What kind of enlightenment are they allowing into their mind? What are they mentally digesting? Is it the mental equivalent of their five-a-day? I doubt it.


As I enjoy what to some would consider a dreary sight out of the window I start to reflect on how much we are distracted. I contemplate how we are so preoccupied that we are no longer in touch anymore. Where communication seems to be through status updates and text messages. How people are continuously drawn to distractions such as the T.V, the computer, the Internet or the need to listen to music rather than to hear what’s going on around them.


Where we are striving to make the world a smaller place, in doing so, we are becoming more disconnected if anything. Disconnected from reality. Disconnected from our surroundings. Disconnected from the people we could be actually coming into contact with. How many chance meetings are missed because either party were too busy looking at a funny video about cats that had been shared on Facebook?


I’m telling you, as I sat there trying to connect and take in the outside world through my eyes rather than a virtual existence, I entered a state of mindfulness. I was present, in the moment. I was feeling the breath entering my lungs; I was seeing the moment and hearing the hum of the commute. I was feeling the gentle rocking of the train as it glided along the tracks. I could smell some of the Chinese man’s shopping. I was here. I existed in the now and I was open to the world around me and prepared to take it in, accept it, enjoy it and feel a richness that can be felt with an acceptance of being in the present moment. Trying to savour this on a deeper level than usual and appreciating that we have a place in this world but merely for a finite amount of time.


Then the Chinese man next to me snorted loudly. Now I’m not talking about him snorting a line of coke right next to me. If only there was a way to spell that sound! No, I’m talking about that bit of mucus you might have at the back of your nasal cavity and then you give it a big deep snort to get it into your throat before swallowing the “goodness.” Yes, that which you might only ever do in your own company if you have some decorum. Well he did it right next to my left ear. A loud, deep reverberating and long snort followed by a gulp.


His eyes were still closed so he didn’t witness the face I pulled as I turned my head once more to look out of the window. Then I saw a drunken looking fellow taking a piss into the canal.


I popped my headphones on and thought I would give my phone another go to see if it had some remnants of juice left in it. Zoning out isn’t so bad sometimes.


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