Cheddar Not Swiss

In February, meditation teacher and author, Sharon Salzberg sponsors a 28-Day Meditation Challenge. Everybody is invited to commit to meditating every day for the month and join the mindfulness community. As part of the challenge, I’ll be blogging throughout the month (along with other meditator/bloggers) about the experience. You can find the posts on Sharon’s site and I’ll share mine on Focus Pocus.

28-Day Meditation Challenge ~ Day 23
Monday, February 23, 2015

28 Day Challenge aspen leaf pub dom

My friend’s daughter just started doing homework on the computer and suddenly, this focused girl is distracted. The time she spends working is fragmented. My friend notices that the lure of email and Google searches keep pulling her out of what she’s doing. It’s just so easy to stop and ask a question or check with the teacher or simply do something else. And the poor thing hasn’t even hit Facebook and smart phones yet!

When her girl sits down to do homework, my friend tells her, “You are a solid block of cheddar cheese. You are not a wedge of Swiss with a bunch of holes in it. Be the cheddar, not the Swiss.”

I love the cheesy image. We all need it. Our devices have us talking on the phone as we walk in the snow, or texting moments after a yoga class, or interrupting a conversation to check a fact or find a picture. The electronics don’t cause the distraction, of course. It’s the distracted way we use them. The problem isn’t the unlimited access to information but our belief in the importance of that information…even to the exclusion of direct experience.

We can’t help but swim in the water of an over-scheduled, over-busy culture. It’s where we are. But we can train ourselves and our kids to focus and concentrate. We can teach ourselves and our kids to drop into the direct experience of the present moment. Meditation is one of the best ways to do that. It’s simple. It costs nothing. And it doesn’t even take much time.

Thank goodness for organizations like the Holistic Life Foundation who are going into schools and teaching kids to breathe and focus. But what if in all schools and businesses which require people to use easily-distracting devices also require concentration training.

Be the cheddar, not the Swiss. Meditate.

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