I choked on a piece of spinach, slick with homemade garden-herb dressing. Not the usual choking culprit. I coughed for a good three minutes before slugging back some lemon-water and finding my breath again.
Why did I choke? Multitasking. It’s become an epidemic. I thought I was immune to it, but somehow I caught the multitasking bug. For many years I suffered from multitasking; I deluded myself into thinking that I could, in fact, do four things at once with equal care and attention to each item. Untrue. As awesome as my brain is, the research still stands that humans are not great at multitasking, even though our deluded grandeur tells us we can master all things.
This particular spinach-choking-day, I was trying to text my Ironman, plug my phone in to charge, talk to my dog, and eat a salad all at the same time. NONE of these things were life-changing, life-threatening, immediate or necessary. All of them could have happened in a neat, organized, sequential order and I would have lived to tell about it. Instead, I almost didn’t.
Seriously, haven’t I learned that I should do one thing at a time, with full and careful consideration, in order to truly enjoy it? Isn’t this called something like… mindfulness?
I try to practice this during my seated meditation, and during my yoga classes, but mindfulness doesn’t always follow me around like multitasking does. The wise Thich Nhat Hanh even says doing one thing at a time (like eating my delicious breakfast salad) is the secret to my success.
“Sometimes we eat and we are not aware that we’re eating. Our mind isn’t there. When our mind isn’t present, we look but we don’t see, we listen but we don’t hear, we eat but we don’t know the flavor of the food. This is a state of forgetfulness. To be truly present, we have to stop our thinking. This is the secret to success.” -TNH
Let me repeat: the secret to my success!
So, could the epidemic of multitasking be my downfall? (Ugh, another habit to re-train.) I think it might be. I mean, the other day I was on the phone chatting with a friend, prepping breakfast for the next day, and I started to grind coffee. Not lying: I was so overcome with the need to multitask that I thought grinding coffee would be a good thing to do while I was talking. On. The. Phone. (I can see you shaking your head in disbelief, dear Reader.)
How am I going to cure myself? I’m not sure, but it may require a change in mindset that approaches all I’m doing as play, instead of work (remember this fun post?). And it may require me to set an intention at the beginning of the day that I am going to practice self-care by giving my brain the opportunity to be present. It may require diligent awareness of how I can heal my fragmented mind-body connection by slowing down, sitting still, and setting this intention:
“Today, I will consciously choose to focus on one thing at a time.”
And, above all, it will require me to return to Mindfulness as often as I can, calling myself back repeatedly, like the ringing of the Bell calls monks to meditation.
When it starts to work and I feel myself growing more whole, present, and mindful, I will let you know.
When do you find yourself multi-tasking? What are you missing out on because you aren’t paying attention? How are you going to pay closer attention to all the little things that could bring you joy?
Looking forward to healing with you,