While trying to think of an idea for this article, I scrolled aimlessly through Instagram, Facetimed a friend, and sent numerous texts and emails, all while snacking on some chips. An hour later, I discovered that the chips had disappeared and a blank Word document remained. Like many people, I am often trying to be productive and check things off my list. In today’s society where productivity is highly valued, multitasking is commonly seen as a positive. However, extensive research done on multitasking has shown that this is an inefficient strategy and actually cuts down on our ability to do things quickly since full attention is not being given to each individual task. Studies have even found that people who talk on their cellphones while walking were more likely to run into people and be less aware of their surroundings- many of them even missed a clown riding by on a unicycle!
If you want to be more present and attentive in your life, then One-Mindfully may be a skill worth practicing. One-Mindfully means, for “just this moment,” being present to our lives and what we are doing. Remaining focused on the one activity in which you are engaging in the present moment means you are not dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. Instead, you are living this one moment for all that it is worth. Think about this concept logically. If you are getting lost in thoughts about the pain and suffering from your past, or anticipating potential pain and suffering in your future, then you are adding unnecessary pain and suffering to the actual pain and suffering you may already be experiencing in the present moment! So, how do we actually do this skill?
- Be Present to Your Own Experiences
Do not avoid or try to suppress your present experiences. Allow yourself to be aware of your current experiences- feelings, sensations, thoughts, movements, and actions.
- Rivet Yourself to Now
Actively focus and maintain awareness of current experiences. This involves letting go of thoughts of both the past and the future. Oftentimes, we respond to ideas of what reality is rather than what it actually is. The goal is to maintain awareness of the moment you are in. For example, if you are sitting in a meeting thinking about all of the tasks you need to accomplish after or all of the activities you would rather be doing, bring your attention back to the present and throw yourself into listening. When you are eating, eat. When you are working, work. When you are worrying, worry. When you are in a conversation, focus your attention on the very moment you are in with that person.
- Do Only One Thing at a Time
This is the exact opposite of mindlessness and multitasking. While we tend to think that if we do many things at once, we will accomplish more, this has been proven to not be true. There are many times we try to do two things at once (i.e., reading this article while eating lunch or sitting in class while worrying about the future). This skill involves fully attending to whatever you do and acting with undivided attention.