What is Mindfulness?
How often during the day do you find yourself juggling plates – on the top of a pole, 20 at a time! Not at all? But before leaving for work this morning were you trying to prepare breakfast/lunch; organise the kids’ school bags; find your car keys/shoes/…;eat your own breakfast; answer the phone? Its called multi-tasking and somebody at somepoint decided this was a good thing to be able to do; women were better at it than men then told us so.
Neither is true, we are not hard-wired to multi-task. Indeed all that happens when we do is that several things get sort-of done and we end up feeling haraased or incompetent. If we focus on doing one task at a time we will actually, in the long run achieve more, and be happier with the end result.
What we’re forgetting, and we really know this, is that we are quite capable of multi- awareness – but this is not the same as multi-tasking.
What’s the difference?
I would suggest that the difference is what mindfulness is about. We can be focused on one task and still know if the child is doing something it shouldn’t which needs our intervention. We can eat our breakfast but make a rational decision not to ruin our digestion with too much negative media imput over the cereals. We can make a choice to leave the phone to go to voicemail until we’ve decided we’re ready for the world. We can slow down, look carefully at what and when we’re doing stuff and ask questions? Are we doing this because “everybody” is; its the “in” thing; we need to know the latest celebrity gossip? Really?
I don’t have time for this….
Of course you don’t, we all react to challenges that make us question why we do what we do. But isn’t the reality that when were tired, grumpy and not eating or sleeping well it can often be because we are cramming yet more into an over tight schedule when what we really need to be doing is spending more time doing one thing at once, with attention.
The Mindfulness Challenge
Take one task you do without fail everyday. Brushing your teeth/hair or the dog’s hair perhaps. Boiling the kettle for a cup of coffee/tea/herbal. Do it with attention. Watch that kettle boil – according to folk wisdom it never will – are you about to prove that little saying wrong? Experience what it feels like to do nothing but brush your teeth. How does the dog respond to your full attention.
You were going to do the little think anyway so why not enjoy the experience – or perhaps decide you hate it and change how you do that particular thing.
Do it for a week – by the end of the week you’ll be an expert in your particular way of doing the little thing. You’ll also be a beginner because each time is different. Did you spot the differences?