It is easy to imagine that our constant state of distractedness is peculiar to the digital age, but distraction has been a concern in every era—perhaps never more so than for Christian monks living in Ireland, Iran, and the places in between, from 300 to 900 CE. Though they quit the world for lives of seclusion, monks still struggled to concentrate, and they came to perceive distraction as a fundamental problem.
As Jamie Kreiner argues in The Wandering Mind, we are obsessed with distraction today in large part because they were. Exploring the sophisticated techniques they developed in their endless quest to concentrate—from unforgiving sleep regimens to massive meditational construction projects—Kreiner demonstrates that their insights, remarkably, can still be useful to us now.
Blending history and psychology, The Wandering Mind is a witty account of human fallibility that bridges a distant era and our own.