We’re Distracted By Evil Social Media But Sixteen Hundred Years Ago Evil Distraction Was Already A Thing
Turns out that not only you or I have some issues with concentrating on one thing, even the monks in medieval times already struggled with focusing and paying attention.
The goal for the monks was “clearsighted calm above the chaos,” as the author and associate professor of history at the University of Georgia Jamie Kreiner writes in her book The Wandering Mind: What Medieval Monks Tell Us About Distraction. Sounds like the same we are aiming for in our modern world. But as opposed to the monks, don’t we have much more to do and to think about?
Actually, the monkey mind was already inhabiting the monks. (Hmm, perhaps that’s where the name comes from?)
Do you wonder what kind of distractions those monks might have faced? Were they not only sitting around praying, reading, studying, singing, gardening, and preaching? No possessions, no sex, no parties. It sounds like no distractions, doesn’t it? Whereas in our world today, more things are competing for our attention than ever before in human history.
They struggled with similar human distractions as we do today, thinking about “the world” to the smaller “community,” and fighting with the “memory” and the “mind.”
The problem is that the mind ‘wanders around like it were drunk’, cites Jamie Kreiner from her research. The monk’s mind would think about something else while it prayed and sang. It would meander into future plans or past regrets in the middle of trying to focus.
And like today, the ideal was a mind which was always and actively reaching out to its target.
History Repeating Itself
We believe that our struggles with lack of time, focus, stress, and constant distraction are hunting us in our modern digitized world. We can see with the medieval monks, far from it.
To make myself feel better, to make you feel better, I am suggesting that we accept the simple revelation: