I feel like mindfulness is so inherent in the asana practice, it's almost odd to extract it as a topic. However, if we simply use it on the mat, the lesson is wasted on the student who never leaves the classroom. Asana practice is the perfect 'laboratory', as I've written, for really diving into building attention span, cultivating discernment and observation and learning how to optimize the simple experience of being a real, live, emotional person spinning around the sun.
So, today's thought combines two complementary practices - a union of complementary forces, we're already into our yoga - and accentuates and supports the best of each.
First off, have you heard, multi-tasking is dead - kaput - so last millennium. Studies have shown that it doesn't increase productivity but rather diminishes not only productivity, but also creativity and teamwork. It's something that many folks were 'raised' on or trained into, and it's hard to drop it. But truly, it's counterproductive externally, but even more so, internally.
Concentrated, uninterrupted focus on one task at hand, on one combined group of issues, or on one lofty goal... this is where collaboration, effective strategizing and creative solution-making come into play. We work best when we simply face the task at hand, minimize the distractions, work collectively and just jump in. One might consider this a business "pratyahara" - a single pointed concentration that eliminates external distractions.
And, simple mindfulness - harnessing, training and cultivating attention and attention span through easy and effective personal techniques - has also been shown to heighten productivity. As I like to say, "Slow is The New Swift" - when we slow down, we get efficient; when we are efficient then things move smoothly; when things are smooth they become swift.
Maybe you go Steven Covey - 7 Habits, and you think of this as "Sharpen the Saw". No matter how you get there, cultivated mindfulness makes better, more rational and more creative thinking, problem-solving and decision-making.
How to combine these two practices? The first concept is Pomodoro - don't ask me why it's named 'tomato', it just is. To begin the discipline, I suggest you go with 30 minute increments in sets of four, for a two-hour work block.
Your Pomodoro - your one task, one single focused point of consideration, be that emails, making calls, a meeting, or simply working on ideas or projects - should last 24 minutes. That's significant enough to get something done, it's short enough to maintain heightened focus, and it's just about where the average mind can go and impact without losing the track.
For the remaining six minutes, you take the first three and get up and walkabout - a quick stretch, a good jolt to the metabolism and circulatory system. Ideally, walking to get a drink of water and/or use the restroom is ideal. But, limit it to three minutes. Then, return to the workspace and spend three mindful minutes. You know you've got a phone you can set to alarm you in 24 and 3-minute increments; stop fronting like this is hard!
Mindful minutes - the other three of them. You can sit in a chair, just get both your feet on the floor. Put your hands on your thighs, sit up straight, close your eyes and take 5 deep breaths. Then, just sit and observe the breath - you can avoid being distracted by mentally repeating "I am breathing in" as you inhale and "I am breathing out" as you exhale. Don't let the simplicity fool you - try this, it it powerful.
You will try this, and no doubt, you'll get really frustrated, because the mind will go everywhere. Nonetheless, sit and observe your breath, either counting the inhales and exhales as beats in and beats out, or repeating any phrases - try "I am creative" on the inhale and "without limitations" on the exhale. Whatever you need, give yourself three, focused, compassionate minutes.
Get your brain reset, and jump into your next tomato! Give it a try, modify it to serve you, but if you're interesting in fine-tuning and optimizing, then this is a plan.
Let me know if this is working! Give thanks and praise!