Meditation is hard. As much as I look forward to those times where I can completely silence my thoughts, I always find about a million things to think about in the moment. It’s like there’s this internal war going on between the part of my brain that wants the quiet and the part of my brain that’s bound to capitalize on that quiet in order to sort through every possible idea I’ve ever had that didn’t get the attention it deserved. This morning, I think I figured out how the war began.
Our society is obsessed with multitasking. Walking and web-surfing. Talking and texting. Eating and emailing. We place significant value on being able to do more than one thing at a time, as if our own worth was determined by how much we could get done at once. Who decided this was a good idea? Did they stop to think about what might get sacrificed when their attention became so divided? Probably not. They were busy multitasking.
Studies have shown that multitasking doesn’t even exist, that it’s physically impossible to do two things at once, and the people who claim to be able to do it have just mastered the art of switching from one thing to the next at an incredibly rapid rate. As much as I believe that to be true, though, it hasn’t stopped me from trying to pre-compose my emails while showering in the morning. It’s practically second nature for me to be thinking about something else while doing a completely different thing.
Enter 40 Days of Yoga homework, twice-daily-mediation.
Meditation makes you slow down. Meditation wants you to find silence. But how, you ask, can you make your mind silent when it’s trying to solve this afternoon’s problems? Truthfully, you can’t. You need to let go of the problems. You need to give yourself permission to relinquish control. This does not come easy, so you need to practice it day in and day out until it becomes easier. You may find that when it does, when you finally achieve a few blissful slices of time where your mind can relax and you can just be, the problems you were holding on to so tightly suddenly don’t seem so big. It reminds me of something I learned from a Meditation teacher. She called it becoming the Observer. You let go of being the Controller. You let go of being the Director. You even let go of being the Meditator. And you simply become the Observer of your own life.
Interestingly enough, the Observer can help you find the answers you were seeking. Not because the Observer is the Solver, but because the Observer watches, acknowledges, and holds space for you to tap into your innate wisdom. Once reconnected with the wisdom that was always yours to begin with, the illusion of the war between the right thing to do and the wrong thing to do falls away, and what you’re left with is what already is.
Sounds peaceful, right? Looking for a piece of that, are you? Well then, try this.
I encourage you to take a look at the places in your life where you’ve been multitasking. Consider giving up the need to do several things at once, and try putting all of your attention into one activity at a time. I hope that by doing this you’ll find the quality of each activity and the experience of each activity greatly enhanced by the new-found awareness you bring to it. This is the first step in conquering the inner drive to do more, more , more. This is the practice of being present, and it may very well be the white flag you’ve been looking for to silence the warring parts of your mind and find a little peace and quiet to meditate.