A wandering mind is an uneasy mind. When our attention is split between many things or when we can't focus on the one thing right in front of us, we feel anxious and uncomfortable. This result is shown through direct experience as well as through scientific studies.
n 2008, I was still (happily) a statistics professor at Lawrence University. During commencement weekend, I gave the baccalaureate address. Just recently, I found my speech, which was never shared on my blog. In general, these words still ring true. So, here's a blast from the past, a view from 10 years ago...
I try to pay attention to my surroundings. When someone cries, I notice that either 1) the person apologizes immediately, or 2) the listener quickly says "everything will be okay." Or these both happen simultaneously. We have a strong need for things to be okay. Okay-ness provides comfort and perceived control, but it doesn't match reality. Sometimes we're okay, sometimes we're not.
When I go on meditation retreat, I often hear some version of these words: "You don't speak forthree whole days? I couldn't do that." It's interesting that not talking is the deal breaker. There are many hard parts of a meditation retreat: judging mind, fear, doubt, and physical discomfort. On retreat, there's no place to hide. I get an honest look at myself and that's difficult territory. But not speaking, that's a gift.