Being in “the zone” isn’t just for creative projects or work or physical activity. It can apply spiritually and religiously, too.
I am deeply and truly terrible at being consistent with anything. Initiating a new habit or routine is akin to rolling a baby stone giant in a granite stroller up a steep hill, and if I lose any momentum at all once I’ve started, I’ve got to start from the bottom of that damn slope all over again. Those niggling “every day” or “every week” habits are desperately hard for me to create and maintain, even when I’m committed and emotionally invested in doing so.
And in the microcosm of moment-to-moment, my ADD makes it an enormous challenge to stay focused and in the zone. The joking remarks of “ooh, shiny!” and “squirrel!” are factual observations of my brain’s standard operating procedure. Even in the most intense or involved activities, I always have a few other trains of thought running in the background; before I realized I was ADD, I called it “spidermind” for all the legs of my brain reaching out in different directions on disparate strands of webbing. Try as I might, even in ritual and deep in meditation I am running multiple tracks simultaneously. My success as staying in the zone in any given activity is not measured by my 100% concentration, but by how many of my brain’s spiderlegs can be placed on the same thread, making that activity thread central instead of one of many equal lines.
Case in point: to write this post with any eloquence at all, I had to pause Spirited Away and turn on my own Hometaping album so I could place enough attention points into the act of writing.
Since I’m far from the only distractable pagan out there (whether or not others are ADD, ADHD, or simply preferred multitaskers), I figure this is a good place to offer up my methods on getting into and staying in the zone in ritual or other spiritual activities.
- While I’ve gotten to the point where I can do my daily ritual in relative silence, music is usually a must for me. However, if I’m trying to converse with my gods or if I’m speaking heka, I need to stay away from music with lyrics in English, since I’ll usually sing along without thinking about it. I love Niyaz for background shrine music, but I also have a few ancient-Egypt-themed albums of “meditation” music that suffice in a pinch, as well.
- Sometimes no music is appropriate or suitable, but I still need white noise. Rainy Mood is fantastic for nonmusical, atmospheric sound; I love the sound of rain and thunder.
- I am distractable by messes and clutter, so before I step into shrine, I need to make sure the area around it is relatively clean. Even if that means dumping random floor-clothes into the closet so they’re out of sight and out of mind. (Hey, I never said I was perfect.)
- Scent really helps me focus, especially if I’m not feeling the most chipper. I have a few wax-melter thingies that I use scented wax cubes in, and of course, there’s always incense!
- Lastly, sometimes I just need something to do with my hands. Speaking heka is awesome, but if it’s a longer ritual, being able to write or draw heka to add to the spoken heka really helps. Most of my own hekau are designed to incorporate gestures or writing in addition to the words to be said aloud.
If you’ve struggled with staying focused during spiritual activities, I’d love to hear how you’ve adapted to keep yourself on track!