"Too many times we confuse motion with progress." Albert Einstein
"When you are chopping a carrot, just chop a bloody carrot!!" Said my meditation instrutor indicating my homework to be attempted up until our next visit. Ok perhaps he didn't say "bloody" (actually he definitely didn't say "bloody" as he was talking in Italian - but THAT was the message).
Sounds easy? Well you try it. How many times are we doing something but thinking of the next thing on the list which we can't wait to cross off? Or rather - how many times do you do something whilst thinking about the job at hand? If you are like me, worryingly rarely. I'm usualy worrying about what I'm going to make for dinner tomorrow, and whether Nina has wet her knickers AGAIN (potty training at the moment).
“The past is a history, the future is a mystery, and the present is a gift. Thats why its called a present.”
- The Great Oogway (Kung Fu Panda)
What's wrong with forward thinking? With planning? Well..."forward thinking" means "The future". Surely "living" is about what's going on "now". If you are constantly projecting yourself forward ultimately you are pushing the Fast Forward button of life. And translated that means you are propelling yourself to towards your grave. It seems a bit of a shame to me. Living means what you are doing now. Not tomorrow or yesterday.
What are some of the biggest obstacles to Living Now? Well to name but a few ....ipods, the radio, mobile phones, Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, television, books ect.....and how we use them. Ie. together. Facebook on it's own can be an incredible distraction to living the present moment, but if we're uploading our photos whilst chatting on the phone we're really not doing ourselves any favors. We are not killing two birds with one stone, we are creating distance from ourselves. And on a physiological level we are suffering for it. Mutitasking produces stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenalin, so if you are a constant habitual multitasker you are more likely than not, to be living under a constant state of stress.
If multitasking is your own personal pathology remember that living also means resting, and relaxing.
Mutitasking. What a blight.
I was once lucky enough to have worked for a great company called "Ubiquity". According to the dictionary "ubiquity" means "the state or capacity to be everywhere at the same time". I presume the name was chosen as it seemed to represent some sort of modern utopia to which everyone should head for. To me it represents a nightmare. I don't want to be "everywhere at the same time" I want to be HERE, thank you very much. Preferably doing nothing (if it hasn't been made illegal yet.)
"People forget how fast you did a job - but they remember how well you did it." Howard Newton
Doing is not living, FEELING is living.
A recipe of Facebook combined with text messaging whilst listening to the ipod has nothing to do with feeling/living but everything to do with escaping. What are we so sacred of? Ourselves? But that's the best thing we have got.
When we're on our deathbeds what are you going to say? "well...you know in my hay day I could text, read and do the lotus position at the same time". Well hey. Pat on the back. Or "when I was really diligent I had 315 friends on Facebook.!" Well, you know what? that's no indication of a social life. On the contrary I'd say it's an indication that you need to get one.
Is mutitasking counter productive?
Yes. Although we are physically able to do two or more things at once it doesn't mean doing them well. Imagine a stream, then imagine dividing it into separate smaller ones. Dividing this body of water up into forks means that each time the stream is separated and redirected, it loses its volume and strength. And exactly the same can be said for your attention and concentration. (this has been proved scientifically ). So giving something your "undivided attention" means giving it you all. On the contrary, multitasking means doing a lot of things at much less that you maximum capacity. So the outcome, the the quality of what you are doing is obviously going to suffer for it. Would it not be better to just do one thing at a time and do it well?!
I have heard the figure 650 billion dollars being bantered about, as being the annual cost to the American economy due to the pitfalls of multitasking. Personally I couldn't give a damn about the tax payers money, I'm more worried about the tax payers state of mind, and if we're talking 650 billion as a financial loss, I wonder what the psychological losses incurred amount to.
B. Alan Wallace quotes a tibetan doctor in his wonderful book "The Attention Revolution" who states " From the perspective of Tibetan medicine, you (people in the west) are all suffering from nervous disorders. But given how ill you are, you are coping remarkably well!"
Part two next week........