We had a conversation in the studio recently about the myth of multi-tasking. “We can’t stop doing it!” was the common claim. It’s true: we have trouble doing one thing at a time, and we have trouble being – in our mind – one place at a time. We live in a culture of constant distraction, driven by productivity. What we really have is a problem with focus. Less and less we are focusing our time and mental energy on just one thing at a time.
Example: I’m eating my lunch as I write this. So it goes like this: I write a sentence…go get a link for the book mentioned in the post…get distracted on Amazon page…look at a new book…put new book in my shopping cart…take a bite of salad…”yummy dressing”…wish there were more avocado than chicken…wish I hadn’t seen that video on how chickens are raised for food…maybe that would be a good movie for movie night at Dauntless…when could we schedule that?…where’s my daytimer…wait! I’m writing a post…where was I? See?
Back to the studio conversation. Bridget chimed in that she’s reading “Wherever You Go, There You Are”, but she got the title a little wrong. Hence the name of this post, but the pun of her mix-up was not lost.
Many of us are more like, as Bridget said; “wherever we are, there we go!” We are somewhere physically – one place at a time, at one moment in time, for one moment in time – and yet there we go, our thoughts a whirlwind of past, present and future. Not focused for any length of time on any one thing. Our brain is constantly moving between past, present and future. It’s normal. It’s how we reference and interpret and prepare. But there’s a cost to not being in, or missing altogether, the present moment.
Meditation could possibly be the easiest thing you could do anytime/anywhere for your health, but your inability and discomfort with being singularly focused – and still – for any period of time might keep you from developing even the simplest, most basic practice. And that’s too bad, because even simple and basic can reap huge benefits. Clearer mind. Increased focus. Increased productivity. Lower blood pressure. Less muscle tension. Better sleep. More oxygen. Slower heart rate. All that and more.
“Wherever You Go, There You Are” is a great book by Jon Kabat-Zinn – a beginners book of mindfulness and meditation. Gently, in one short chapter at a time, he presents the skill of being in the present moment. Something you may dismiss as many things: silly, waste of time, unproductive, boring, new age, weird, etc. But consider this, by another writer on this subject:
“Realize deeply that the present moment is all you have.” Eckhart Tolle
Hmm. Keep reading Bridget. But not while the TV is on in the background.