Our society is in a constant search for entertainment. While standing in line at the supermarket, we scan the magazine headlines. While eating our breakfast, we browse the newspaper. As soon as one activity is finished, we immediately look for another – something to engage our senses or to occupy our minds. Seldom do we ever just sit still and rest in the present moment.
Why must we always be entertained? Entertainment is defined as “an activity that is diverting and that holds the attention”. Why do we need activities to hold our attention? What are we trying to divert our attention from?
The sad truth is that many of us are uncomfortable simply being with ourselves. We hold within ourselves these anxieties that we are unwilling to face, and so we avoid stillness at all costs. It is similar to a student who may find all manner of tasks to do in order to procrastinate from studying. Paradoxically however, seeking entertainment only increases our anxiety. It creates a sense that we are avoiding something, which is in itself a cause of stress. Furthermore, by losing touch with ourselves, internal conflicts and emotions build up without us being aware of them.
Even a little time away from this entertainment mentality goes a long way in returning peace and stillness to our lives. There is a very simple method for achieving this. Between any two activities, we simply rest for a moment in stillness. If we wish, we can focus our attention by letting the mind rest with the gentle flow of breath in and out of our bodies. Initially, these pauses between activities may not seem still at all, because they make us aware of just how turbulent our minds are. However, with time, our minds become conditioned to these moments of rest, and they make an enormous difference to our days. Therefore, the next time we catch our minds jumping from one activity to another, craving some kind of entertainment, we should instead try to just sit still for a moment, and to gently observe what happens. The results may be pleasantly reassuring.