We get so skilled at multi-tasking that we forget what it’s like to do just one thing: pay attention.
When we multi-task, we are not present to the situation at hand.
No one can juggle and still be 100% present.
Today, just as I got into the car, the phone rang. Instinctively I answered it. I wanted to return home as soon as possible, for I was tired. It was a long day of meetings, and the last thing I wanted to do was to chat on the phone.
So I compromised.
I put my cell phone on SPEAKER mode, on my lap, and tried to drive.
I strived to listen and participate in a conversation while navigating my way downhill through two stop signs and two traffic lights before I got home safely.
The end result? The conversation didn’t go well. The caller felt dismissed and misunderstood. Meanwhile, I had no idea what the call was about.
At the heart of Buddhism and Yoga is the teaching of mindfulness. In other words, be present and pay attention.
Just because modern technology allows us to multi-task does not mean that it’s the right thing to do at any time.
I certainly cannot multi-task when I practise the piano or give a performance. Even if I can, I don’t.
It annoys me when I see members of the audience operate their smart phones during a concert or conference. They think they can still focus. They think it doesn’t affect others. They think no one notices. On the contrary, it’s distracting and irritating.
Practise multi-tasking and you get good at being pre-occupied. When was the last time you paid full attention? When was the last time you received undivided attention from someone?