Distraction is actually a symptom of another characteristic, that of “dispersion” of the consciousness. If we take the time to observe our own sense of awareness we find that it seems to be primarily on the surface of our being, receiving sense perceptions, reacting to people, things, events and circumstances and otherwise busying itself with all the details of the external life. From time to time we may experience a centred, indrawn state of awareness where we feel ourselves to be ‘self-contained’, so to speak, and thus, at peace. We may also meet people, from time to time, who seem to have a powerful presence without, however, any overt action on their part. We feel the concentrated nature of their being. This is different from those who actively assert their power in situations and who try to control or overwhelm others through active intervention in the relationship. On the contrary, those who are simply ‘present’ with a powerful sense of a consciousness that is alert, gathered, and ‘grounded’ exert a subtle influence on their surroundings without trying.

Dr. Dalal observes: “Associated with distraction is another characteristic of the normal state of consciousness, alluded to in the passage just quoted above, namely dispersion. In the normal state, consciousness is scattered, so to speak, in the superficial parts and movements of the being — physical, vital and mental. As the Mother observes: “One throws oneself out all the time; all the time one lives, as it were, outside oneself, in such a superficial sensation that it is almost as though one were outside oneself. As soon as one wants even to observe oneself a little, control oneself a little, simply know what is happening, one is always obliged to draw back or pull towards oneself, to pull inwards something which is constantly like that, on the surface. And it is this surface thing which meets all external contacts, puts you in touch with similar vibrations coming from others. That happens almost outside you. That is the constant dispersal of the ordinary consciousness.”

Dr. Dalal concludes: “The dispersed nature of the normally pervading consciousness stands in sharp contrast to the in-gathered and collected nature of the deeper consciousness.”

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, Growing Within: The Psychology of Inner Development, Introduction, pp. vi-vii

Author's Bio: 

Santosh has been studying Sri Aurobindo's writings since 1971 and has a daily blog at http://sriaurobindostudies.wordpress.com and podcast at https://anchor.fm/santosh-krinsky He is author of 17 books and is editor-in-chief at Lotus Press. He is president of Institute for Wholistic Education, a non-profit focused on integrating spirituality into daily life.