a case for mindfulness

mindfully made breakfast for our guests

I never have been a good multi-tasker.  Even if I had been, I think it's pretty much over-rated.

Life, it seems, has always been centered on getting as much stuff done as possible, and fretting about the rest.  This, my friends, is known as a catch-22 of the highest order.  No sooner have you deposited your annual bonus check that your sales quota goes up by thirty percent for next year.  In bed and breakfast terminology, the pile of sheets to be ironed is directly proportionate to the number of dishes to be washed.

There is always, always something to do.

Which is why, at a very young age, I felt compelled to learn how  to drive a car,  catch up with the boss on the phone and drink coffee at the same time.  I thought that was what it took to be, well, successful. Scary thing is, instead of doing all three of those things, I wasn't doing any of them.  I wasn't really listening to my boss, couldn't remember ten minutes later how the coffee tasted and, most alarmingly, was not highly focused on any of the cars around me as I barreled down the 5 freeway towards Los Angeles.

Multi tasking means doing things blindly. You can't focus on your writing on the computer and on your food at the same time.  Your proofreading might be ok, but the sandwich will land in an un-chewed clump in your stomach.   You cannot focus on the car in front of you and get your mascara on correctly.  Please stop trying.  It's not worth it.

I have learned, through trial and error, that if I do things one at a time and stay focused,  great things happen.

My writing improves. My breads are more beautiful when they come out of the oven. My mosaics are more balanced in their color. My hair looks better. I feel more awake and less frazzled.

I'm nicer to be around.

Mindfulness is simply the practice of paying close attention to what we are doing, while we are doing it.  The practice of being in the moment.  Of savoring and respecting the things that your hands and your mind are doing right now.  It's the practice of not allowing other things to barge in and pull us away.  It's the practice of finishing what you start.

Most importantly, mindfulness is the practice of not missing out on your life because you were too fragmented to really notice.  If there is no other case to be made for mindfulness, it would be this fact alone.

By doing things one at a time, there is a much greater likelihood that your to-do list will actually get shorter.  Because you won't have unfinished projects going on all around you - half cleaned out drawers, half wrapped cheese in the fridge, half done tax returns- you will undoubtedly feel calmer.  Better.  More relaxed.

So here's wishing you a one-thought-one-task at a time day.  Enjoy and savor each moment.