Over the last two weeks I just couldn’t get a break. Multi-tasking had become the norm even when I didn’t need to do it. Watching TV and writing. Reading and simultaneously fielding emails. Walking the dog and talking on the phone. Checking the phone for any kind of alerts at each stoplight while driving. I was on this endless treadmill trying to juggle every facet of my life. And suddenly I felt exhausted.
If I read one more post on Facebook or checked the stats on my blog one more time I was going to be seriously sick of myself. It was a conversation I was having with one of my closest friends where I was griping about how an app on my phone was all messed up and how I noticed the blog stats were reading incorrectly that made me stop in my tracks. “Does it really matter?” she asked. After a dramatic grand pause, the answer was clear, “Actually, no.”
When had I started taking the small things so seriously? Probably at the same time I decided to do multiple things at once, missing the point of concentrating on each moment. It is often said it is impossible to do two things at once effectively. When performing multiple tasks there are only a couple of possibilities. One task will be done well while the other suffers. Or both tasks are done at a sub par level.
So, upon realizing I had systematically lost my mind, I decided to go on a Facebook Fast. 48-hours no Facebook. 48-hours purposefully doing one singular thing at a time. If I was driving my car, that’s all I was doing. If I was on the phone, I sat and had the conversation. If I walked the dog, I enjoyed the journey. And I must say it was blissful.
Not only was I more effective and clear after 48-hours of focusing on each given moment, I found that I had accomplished a great deal, had several conversations with people I hadn’t been able to connect with for awhile, and any kind of anxiety I had just dropped away.
Now I’m not here to preach that Facebook is the devil. That wasn’t the point of the break for me at all. I love Facebook. It allows me to stay connected to friends from all over the world that I either met in my acting travels or at Bikram Yoga Teacher Training, as well as, family members I don’t get to see that often. I can connect with students outside of the hot room and share stories and photos with them from our everyday lives. It’s fun. But sometimes you need to come back to the basics.
When talking about my 48-hour mission to do one thing at a time many of my friends asked if I found it difficult. And honestly I want to tell you it was quite simple. I just put the intention on my goals and made it happen. If I started to juggle a couple of tasks at once I became aware of it and put one of the activities away until later.
But as yoga practitioners having a singular focus on one task at a time is a skill we cultivate with each session. In some classes this talent eludes us, but we try anyway. This is most imminent in Standing Head to Knee Pose in the Bikram Series. Most of us think the goal of this posture is to get the head to the knee of the kicking leg with the other leg solidly locked out. But when you really take the posture at its most simplistic level the goal is to concentrate on contracting the thigh of the standing leg, seeing the knee cap lift up, and creating a dimple on the top of the knee joint for a full 60 seconds. Everything else is just extra credit. As soon as the mind starts to wander, or you start “competing“ with the yogi on the mat next to you, the knee will bend or you will fall out and have to begin the posture once again. And no matter what happens, if you must begin again, you are not only strengthening your stamina in the posture, but also strengthening the art of focusing the mind.
The most effective practice is one where you are truly present for each breath, each movement, each drop of sweat. Back when I first started practicing I thought the best classes were the ones in which I completely spaced out, put my body on auto-pilot and came-to sometime around Rabbit Pose. But when we really concentrate on the breath and how the body feels in a given posture we are embracing the power and magic of that moment and will cultivate a mindful and fulfilling practice.
And as the practice improves in turn so does our daily lives outside of the hot room. In which we are no longer zoning out while driving the car, but enjoying the feel of the steering wheel in our hands and the wind blowing through the windows. Or while we are talking with friends and family we are truly engaged in what they are saying, their facial expressions, and the sound of their voice instead of being driven to distraction by the phone, computer, or TV. Whatever you are doing do it fully, with every good intention, and see how your whole life opens up as you embrace your moment.
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