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Curb Multitasking By Practicing Mindfulness

By Tessa Ivascu | Section(s): GET... , , | Add Your comment

One best way to curb our irresistible attraction towards multitasking is practicing mindfulness. Mindfulness IS doing one thing at a time. According to Buddhists, it was Buddha who, over 2500 years ago, provided guidance on establishing mindfulness. However, you don’t need to become a Buddhist in order to understand mindfulness ; its practice does not have to be constrained to a formal meditation session. Any activity done mindfully is a form of meditation, and mindfulness is possible practically all the time.

LEARN MINDFULNESSLet’s admit it : it’s difficult to resist our intuitive belief that doing several things at once will save time. More so because (a little) multitasking CAN BE a good thing. But we’re humans : we always want MORE.

Besides, we are educated and trained to use constantly the « executive control » processes of our brain, hence to believe that « thinking » means anticipating, linking to the past, organizing, analyzing, judging, whatever comes to mind.

By doing so, we neglect, even discard a quite different «mental content», rooted in our awareness of the present moment. We often consider reflecting on the sensations, emotions and feelings that come with the present experience as counterproductive, since they distract us from the more serious task of «thinking» : this is musing, daydreaming...

But what if, instead of fighting it, we dive in this mental content and explore it in order to reach another, higher form of action ? After all, Marcel Proust said :

If a little dreaming is dangerous, the cure for it is not to dream less but to dream more, to dream all the time.
(We’ll let Marcel Proust tell us how he discovered mindfulness in another article).

Let’s change «dreaming all the time» in «being mindful all the time». Mindfulness practice starts with paying attention to what is going on in the body, in the mind, in our emotional life here and now. In short, mindfulness means having «presence» - the quintessential quality of awareness that creates peak experiences in living.

By bringing your awareness to focus on what your mind experiences at the present moment, you can :
  • accurately perceive what is really happening – both outside and inside yourself ;
  • appreciate this present experience without the need to judge it ;
  • take effective action.
In his book, Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life, Jon Kabat-Zinn offers a good definition of mindfulness :
Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way : on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmentally.
This reminds me of a photographer who, when asked what it takes to make a good photo, answered : «Being there».

So how can you get « there » ?

A. Identify experience as mental content (consider both inner and outer aspects of reality as aspects of the mind) :
  1. Notice that the mind is continually full of chatter (making commentary or judgement) ;
  2. Become aware that this chattering you hear during «thinking» is no more than a discursive habit, a «script» ;
  3. Admit that the «script» or the «voice» you hear may not be concrete reality or absolute truth ;
  4. Distinguish your thoughts (by carefully observing them) from these «scripts» ;
  5. Release attachment to predispositions, «scripts» or «automatic reactions» and see your thoughts for what they are (just thoughts) without aversion or judgment.
B. Feel free to observe life without getting caught in the commentary/judgement trap or in the automatic identification with the «voices» and «scripts» your mind forges when «thinking».

By practicing mindfulness, you learn to «be there», to develop awareness throughout the day. The aim is to make mindfulness continuous. This may take the form of nothing more than taking a few successive breaths while remembering they are a conscious experience of body activity within mind. Or nothing more than observing a flower, the way Marcel Proust learned to do.

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4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Bonsoir,
Un petit message pour vous dire merci pour tout le travail que représente ce site.
Je n'ai lu qu'un post, mais je compte bien explorer le reste.
Le lien entre mindfulness et Proust est vraiment nouveau pour moi. Il faut décidément que je retrouve le premier volume de cette oeuvre et que je tente une nouvelle lecture !

Encore merci,
Manuel

TESSA IVASCU said...

Merci beaucoup pour ce commentaire, Manuel !
Oui, tentez une nouvelle lecture, je considère La Recherche comme le livre essentiel du "développement personnel", c'est en tout cas le propos majeur de Marcel Proust. On peut bien sûr argumenter et contre-argumenter, revenez quand vous voulez.

KajunTex said...

Informative and inspirational....Good reading...Thanks for the post!

Cocreator said...

Do one thing. Do it very well. Move on.

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