Friday, March 20, 2009

Multitasking Madness

Crisis in our body

Looking out the passenger window while driving to clinic I view this twenty something woman who from all appearances was not looking at the road at all. I followed her for a while thinking “she’s got to look soon,” but she doesn’t, perhaps ¼ mile or so she drove face locked onto her lap where it appeared she had sitting her cell phone, texting, texting, so caught up in it she had apparently forgotten she was driving a three thousand pound vehicle down the road…

This is not unusual, I must admit I use my phone while driving, but I usually at least keep one eye on the road… but what does this have to do with health, with healing, other than its hard to be healthy if you dead from a fatal car crash?

This is just one example of today’s multitasking mentality. Today the idea of doing one thing at a time seems almost primitive, and why not, aren’t we rewarded for such behavior, isn’t the boss impressed with this skill of ours, did you not even include it on your resume’ “an accomplished multitasker?”

I write about health, of mind and body and as such I feel a responsibility to say things, to offer ideas that are often unpopular for they suggest a very different view, say that things must change, things we have not only come to do habitually, but also bring us pleasure, and although superficial put money in our pockets and we’ve now come to believe we cannot survive without. With all this vested of course it is difficult to change, but please consider it.

Consider these actions, this mindset is one of chaos and sets up the fight or flight scenario in our bodies… raising pulse, blood pressure, and releasing hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. All these responses a have a purpose and function, but ones that are meant for moments of our lives, not for hours on end, day in and day out.

Living this way confuses our body for it perceives what’s going on as dangerous. It is like living every day in a war zone. This even while driving in our safe luxurious cars, sitting in our comfortable offices and even in our homes. All safe places converted into war zones by our view, our mindset, our over activity, our desire to do, do, do for when we stop, take a breath, and get quiet, we see what arises as frightening, uncomfortable and most of all unfamiliar. This is your life, live it awake!

Still few will not look closer, few will ever think of giving up this so called life for another out of fear they might lose something, something essential, something lasting, something of value. We think “I’m not really happy now, what will happen if I lose this or that, then what?

One of my professors, a Chinese gentleman mentioned in class the way things were while he was in school in china. During the lecture the students we not permitted to write, have computers, no cell phones, no texting, no nothing. They were required to sit hands behind their backs, facing forward, listening… Period!

What was that all about? It’s about being mindful, single mindedly doing one thing at a time. Not more, just one. He said they learned well this way, and I bet they did. Sometimes I wonder how we get anything done well; everything has to be accompanied by something else in order to make it palatable for our delicate selves… We are such wimps!

Ok, hope you were doing one thing while reading this, if not shut of the TV, the music, or whatever else is happening, and then return to this, read it in silence. enjoy...

Let me finish with a quote from my favorite book on doing one thing well.

Here the author talks about the simple task of dish washing.

“While washing dishes one should only be washing dishes, which means that while washing dishes one should be completely aware of the fact the one is washing dishes. At first glance, that might seem a little silly; why put so much stress on such a simple thing? But that’s precisely the point. The fact that I am standing there and washing these bowls is a wondrous reality. I am being completely myself, following my breath, conscience of my presence, and conscience of my thoughts and actions. There is no way I can be tosses around mindlessly like a bottle slapped here and there on the waves.”

~The Miracle of Mindfulness - Thich Nhat Hanh~

Living mindfully, doing one thing at a time very consciously is the only way to truly “live” life. Otherwise in the mist of all that multitasking you will lose the essence of the moment, therefore losing that moment forever, losing your life a moment at a time in a wash of simultaneous mindless acts. Never having really experienced anything you’ve done.

Besides all that good stuff it will also keep you safe, raise your productivity, and sharpen your thinking. You will be clearer about what’s going on and more precise in carrying out your daily activities. It may not look as fancy as juggling five things at once, but I promise the results will be soo much better.

Smiles… gi

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