I was speaking to an audience of a hundred people or so in a large auditorium, and part way through my talk a muted clicking noise started to recur every few seconds somewhere out in the audience. I’ve had people’s hearing aids act up in the past, cell phones chime, watches go off, and candy wrappers be noisily unwrapped, so the distraction wasn’t a first time experience.
I was patient to address the issue because I didn’t want to offend anyone by pointing it out and making them the center of attention. But the noise did not cease. And it grew increasingly bothersome.
When people started turning their heads in the direction of the noise, I knew I was losing my audience, so the issue had to be addressed head on if I was to continue with any success.
I stopped and asked, “Does anyone know where that clicking sound is coming from?” Someone in the back row said it was water dripping from the ceiling onto the carpet in the aisle.
That was odd, I thought. It was bright and sunny outside. No rain. An usher finally responded and guessed it was the air conditioner leaking.
Well, this was still a tough position for me to deal with because it didn’t look like it was a problem that could be quickly fixed, and I needed to keep moving with my talk. So, I did a quick prayer to understand how to address this, and was inspired to say to everyone, “Okay, we all know what the noise is now, so we can put it out of our mind and focus on the message coming from up here.”
And that simple truth stated point blank regained control of the situation.
Everyone’s attention pivoted to the front of the auditorium, and they quickly were immersed into the heart of my talk once again, despite the drip, drip that continued for the rest of the hour. And it was easy for me to focus, too.
There was a spiritual lesson in this experience.
Have you ever had to deal with distracted thought? Perhaps you’re having a hard time connecting with a teenager or a spouse, or a family member has distanced themselves, or a co-worker appears unconnected, or your thinking is going in circles without
finding clear direction? If so, what’s the distraction? Figure it out and address it head on.
Once you see what is pulling attention away, you can directly confront it, undo it’s claim on mind, and allow attention to pivot back to where it should be.
Distraction needs to be addressed head-on to remove any bad effect.