Paying Attention

When the mind is not present, we look and do not see; we hear and do not understand; we eat and do not know the taste of what we eat.The Great Learning

How much of our time is spent in distraction? Matthew Killingsworth and Daniel Gilbert of Harvard University wanted to know, so they convinced 2,250 volunteers to install an app on their phones that would randomly “ping” them to ask if they had their minds on what they were currently doing or if they were thinking about something else.

They found that we spend about 47% of our time in a state of distraction. Think about it. We spend half of our lives lost in memory, planning, worry, judgement…anything but our lives!

It’s easy to write this off as the result of mass media, smartphones, and our busy modern lifestyles. But Ru recognized this problem more than 2,000 years ago.

The first step in making the mind present is catching ourselves when we fall into mindlessness. Just being aware of the instant that we lose touch with the present moment is usually enough to bring us back into our lives

About the Author

Ben Butina, Ph.D.
Ben is the President and co-founder of the Ruist Association of America, Inc. and Friends from Afar, an English-speaking Ruist discussion group on Facebook. He's also the creator of, a modern English adaptation of the Analects of Confucius.