How many tabs are open on your computer right now?
When was the last time you heard complete silence?
What are you currently thinking about?
If I tried to answer those questions a couple of months ago, my answers would have been:
I swear it was just two, but they must have procreated when I wasn’t looking.
When my headphones broke *gasp* no music or podcasts?!
Five different things at once, and now a sixth for good measure.
I wasn’t even aware of it back then, but I was constantly chasing Time, running after it figuratively and literally. When I did manage to catch its tails I would grab it and stuff it with as much as I could manage. Poor Time would be filled until it was bulging, buckling under the weight of all the things I tried to shove in. Time for a walk? First got to make sure I have my headphones in, audiobooks rolling, fitness tracker on, and ooh reply to these texts, or maybe just take a phone call while I’m at it. I’m so caught up in my own world (aka my phone) that only the soft body of a stranger could bounce me back to reality. So sorry sir, didn’t see you there, oh yikes, no need for such a glare.
Okay so a little walking violation aside, I still managed to accomplish a very productive walk, right? Well it’s no wonder Time was always running away from me, I clearly wasn’t very nice to it. On the surface it felt like I was getting a lot done because I was doing a lot of different things, but doing things and getting them done turned out to be very different beasts.
It’s easy to fall into this trap. With everything available to us at the touch of a button, the effort to switch from one task to another is decreasing to almost nonexistence. You want to stop reading and listen to music instead? Just close one app and open up another, or do both, all at the interval of a mere second. Imagine the olden days when you would have had to close your book, maybe even leave the room (or risk the ire of the librarian) then find a radio or a record and put that on. Even if you managed to do this at lightning speeds it would still take you a few minutes at least. And those minutes could be enough to discourage you from changing tasks at all (admit it, we’ve all been that lazy). But the fact of the matter is, now we don’t even have to think twice when we want to task switch, and why stop there, you can open four, eight, or infinite amount of apps at once.
With our capacity for increasing all we are doing, we feel like we’re adding to what we’re accomplishing. But we still only have one brain, and just because we divide our attention doesn’t mean our attention is growing. We pay it out to more things, but each thing is receiving a lot less. Thus we are everywhere and nowhere at once.
When everything in our lives feels equally important we begin to burn out. Even resting doesn’t feel safe or restful.
– Lama Surya Das
How to come back to center in a world obsessed with more? Where multitasking is not a concept but a religion; worship at its altars or risk expulsion from the rat race, come on, keep up! There never seems to be enough time, but time itself is not the problem. We have always had the same amount, but now we only care to squeeze more out of it, not caring about what we put into it.
Personally, I find it extremely helpful to focus on trying to do less and be more. This lets me leverage my time, energy and resources more effectively, while emphasizing meaningful time and activities that matter.
– Lama Surya Das
Be more. When you try to focus on too much you aren’t really focusing on any of it. Taking one thing at a time will actually get you getting things done faster, because you do it once well, rather than returning to it halfway after completing it while distracted.
Be present. Take in what you are currently doing, whether it is a single task on a single tab, or a walk outdoors. Live in the moment you are currently occupying, and stay there. Every other moment will get their turn, but devote yourself to whatever has you in the here and now. And feel how alive you are when you are wholly there, all parts of your mind gathered together in one place all focused on the same thing.
Breathe. Smile. Relax. Take one little moment of mindful meditation. This is your space, a little hole in time that is wholly yours, fitting in you and nothing more. One moment of your day, no matter how busy you’ve convinced yourself it is, take one moment and dedicate it to you.
Living in the present helps us to be there while getting there during every moment of each day.
– Lama Surya Das
Be present. Not far away, not far back, come right into center, even if just for a moment. It will soothe you, connect you to what you are, really. Stop what you are doing if you are trying to do too much. Breathe, smile, relax. Live in right now. And be happy!
Author’s Note: If you are interested in more resources on how to find your center in today’s busy world, take a look at Buddha Standard Time by Lama Surya Das, an American Lama. Good tips on mindful meditation that will fit even the most busy of modern day schedules, definitely a worthy read!
**No association to the author or book, just a fan. 🙂