In many styles of yoga — Ashtanga and Vinyasa, particularly — the class is constructed by a series of postures sewn together to make a sequence. Each pose, though distinct, flows into the next almost without a separate beginning or ending. Separate, but seamless. In fact, the transitions themselves are, of themselves, poses. Moving with the breath, each movement is both active and passive. For me, Yoga, which means “union” is the unification of one pose to another; the unity of the breath to the pose; the uniting of the self with the all. And, to truly be present during yoga, the mind is absent of thought and distraction. Absent of multi-tasking.
When I’m in a yoga class or doing my morning asana (poses) at home, my awareness is on my practice and my practice alone. For those 45 to 90 minutes, I am doing only one thing at a time sequentially, and life seems manageable and clear.
In 2012, it seems almost incomprehensible to tackle one thing at a time. With all of the electronic devices, television, radio, and pressures we place upon ourselves, one track succession is a foreign concept. We are a generation of multi-tasking, overthinking, producers. We are rarely, if ever, doing only one thing at a given moment. Right now you are reading this at work perhaps with four other browser windows open. Or maybe you’re reading on your iPhone and walking (look out for that fountain). Or you might even be reading while listening to music, or while half paying attention to someone on the phone.
When we’re at work, we’re juggling any number of projects at one time. When we’re at home, we’re eating with the television on and checking email. Even when we’re sleeping, our mind is so used to overstimulation, it’s still working even when you’re not conscious.
We’ve groomed ourselves to renounce task oriented focus in the name of productivity. But, the reality is, you can’t do more than one thing at a time except that which is happening without your thinking — you’re heart beats, you breathe, you blink. Much of the ‘multi-tasking’ we think we’re accomplishing is only happening because one of those things is automatic, and doesn’t require mind focus.
And in this self-conditioned state of overdoing, we’ve created our own stress. By the way, we’re not really even as good at it as we think. I read about a test once. Think about the taste of your favorite food like pizza, peanut butter or chocolate at the exact same time you try to add 144 + 27. You simply cannot achieve both at the same time.
With all of this not-achieving, we begin to experience feelings of guilt, inadequacy, frustration. So, stop. Hang the do not disturb sign up in your mind, and take it one step at a time. Notice that it takes you the same amount of time to accomplish three tasks sequentially as when you’re multi-tasking. And, you’ve given each more focus, you’re less overwhelmed, and guess what they ALL got done.
If you practice yoga, bring the Vinyasa sequence to your daily activities. If you don’t practice yoga, try simply turning off the TV when you’re eating, pay attention while driving without a concurrent phone call, and take notice of the glorious silence between the noise you’d previously created for yourself.
– Your Charmed Yogi