When the mind is focussed we experience well-being. Whatever we are doing – cleaning, drawing, writing, yoga, driving, cooking – focus harnesses the mind and gives it a purpose and this has a positive effect on our nervous system. For many of us, however, our minds swing between the states of distraction and fixation, both of which detract from our well-being and may be the sign or cause of anxiety. The distracted mind can be amplified through our relation to digital technology. When the mind is fixated it dominates and diminishes our experience. In both states we become a servant of our mind, rather than engaging it in a way that enables us to live well.
The human virtual environment of the internet is designed in a way that encourages us to scan, and move from one piece of information, or stimulus to another without resting on something, and engaging it with any depth. We develop addictive relations to our phones and computers. We find ourselves constantly ‘checking in’, and searching for something, often without satiation. The distraction that many of us experience in relation to the digital interface could be our most common experience throughout the day. This state deters us from a deeper engagement of the mind as we experience in such activities as reading. It also keeps us from being present in relation to ourselves and each other.
The fixated mind may be a sign of our anxiety or the outcome of some traumatic experience. We go over a narrative in our mind again and again. We expand upon that narrative, imagining every possibility and analyse it over and over until we become exhausted. Though our mind may arrive at some conclusion or overall judgement, we experience no insight or true understanding. Any conclusion or judgement that we make from a fixated mind is likely to cause negative emotions such as fear, anger, resentment and so on.
When our mind is focused we experience peace. The focussed mind is at once dynamic and still in its attention. Even the most banal of tasks such as cleaning can bring us a sense of fulfilment if our minds are focussed in this activity. Yoga is a technology designed to still the fluctuations of the mind, and this, along with the fact that it is a breath and heart-centric practice, is why it has such a healing and enlivening effect. Where the distracted and fixated mind depletes our energy and causes us to disconnect from our life force, a focussed mind gives us energy, and allows us to experience our flow.