Recently the notion of “contaminated time” has begun to enter the lexicon. It refers to leisure activities that are combined with something else, frequent housework or child care. So far the focus has been on how women’s so-called leisure time is “contaminated” by constant thinking about kids, house, work, errands, etc. While woman may bear the brunt of this contamination, obviously anyone’s leisure time can be contaminated—not thoroughly enjoyed or appreciated—if their attention is directed elsewhere.
Extending the concept further, contaminated time might refer to any time not enjoyed or appreciated independent of the activity one is engaged in—work may also involve contaminated time. So contaminated time really refers to intrusive thoughts that prevent one from being engrossed in the moment, the flow or whatever you want to call it. When I am focused on writing and thinking my time is usually not contaminated and I’d guess that a good meditator focused deeply on their breathing feels this even more so. (In fact attentiveness to any task that one enjoys defines “decontaminated time.”)
Extended in this way contaminated time is really contaminated mind. For most of us this involves distractions to our mental peace arising from ignorance, anger, envy, greed, and other impurities that obsessively and involuntarily occupy our minds. There has been more written about how to control our minds through meditation, exercise, keeping busy and the like than I can cover in this blog post. But I’d suggest that we would probably do best to minimize our peace-disturbing mental compulsions as best we can. They harm both ourselves and others.
Perhaps all of humanity’s problems stem from our inability to have inner mental peace.
2 thoughts on “Contaminated Mind Time”
It seems to me that most of human living is not self-directed in a rational, thoughtful way. Instead, most of our living is done in reaction to distractions. I read a blog, an article catches my interest, I read that article, which leads to another link, then someone texts me, etc.
Actually planning out your day, with lists and notes, to figure out precisely what you want to do (rather than what other things distract you into doing) is really quite rare, and difficult to achieve. But it seems to me to be one of the most powerful things you can accomplish in life. That’s why I’m going to Seattle in June for the extended-mind productivity (GTD) seminar.
It’s insane out there, but you already know this. I don’t remember if I heard it said or if I read it on a poster somewhere: “Stop the world, I want to jump off”. Don’t worry, the person who flew by you going ninety miles an hour will be there at the next light. You know who I am talking about. I saw an Ad about some electronic service that said, “If you’re not 50% faster, it’s because you’re 50% slower. Does it stop at 1,000% faster? Well, recently I saw another Ad that gave me the answer. It says’ ” Your tomorrow starts today”. Really !! This is Life lived faster than the speed of Now, don’t you think? Yes, I know and realize that the Ad is not meant to be taken literally. Still, these are market tested words designed to capture the imagination, and in an insidious way, they work. It seems we are fast approaching mindlessness at a Time when we most need to be more Mindful of our own “Presence”, of our own “Being” in the “Now”.
At some point, we have to become aware and take control because it’s true. Today, we’re constantly distracted and moving so fast we keep missing the “Present”. We need to slow down, be Mindful and take control.