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On Mindfulness and Multitasking

Mindfulness. This catchy word seems to be everywhere lately. Be mindful, notice what is around you, and be fully engaged in the “here and now”. But is this realistic? Could any of us be fully engaged in every moment and remain functional in our lives? There is no doubt in the hustle and bustle of daily life that we are often multitasking on autopilot; driving a car, talking on the phone and listening to music or making dinner and helping kids with homework and thinking about that last business meeting and what needs to be done at work. This capability of going into our mind while completing another task physically is how we are able to problem solve, plan and move towards accomplishing future goals. It is also how we recall past events in order to make changes or continue with actions into our future. Is this inherently a problem? Being mindfully aware, taking time to fully engage in the moment is very important at times, especially when we use it to live towards the values we hold most dearly. When we use mindfulness to be aware of which activities move us towards these values or away we begin to figure out what a meaningful life is for us.

So if a person is walking, listening to music and making a grocery list in her mind, and it brings her closer to caring for her body and replenishing her spirit by appreciating music, exercising and planning healthful meals the multitasking is working for her. However, if she finds she is depleted or on edge after the run, perhaps this is a cue to run mindfully: smelling the scents around, noticing the movement of the body, the sensations of the air and sweat on skin, and appreciating the sights. Music and shopping lists may be best done later.

Mindfulness is powerful, but is impossible to engage in at all times. Take time to consider what in your life is most deserving of your full attention and focus your mindfulness there.