That's pretty much how it is for me - I know as kids we were praised for being able to multitask in school and it was all the rage. Improve your productivity, maximize your results, amaze your friends, please your parents!!
Well, pilgrims on sea, it just ain't so. In fact, when I first came to the yoga practice and I was struggling to find my place, to understand what was going on, I spent a lot of time multitasking in class. Thinking about "what does that mean?" and wondering "why would they choose that word/pose?". May sound judgmental, probably was, but if I was in a space where I could judge while struggling with my breath, then I was clearly multitasking. And, in truth, it wasn't very productive; I didn't maximize my experience and results.
About six months into my practice, I took Teacher Training for the first time. I recall, the first night we did a fifteen-minute minimally guided meditation. It was well offered and carefully managed and for many of us in the room, the longest extended period of focus, concentration, meditation, mindfulness or what have you that we had ever experienced. After, as we were dialoging and folks were sharing that, I recall my Teacher offering - "yoga is undivided, uninterrupted, continuous focus".
Bam! I got that. And, while I still work each practice to get that, I get it. I grok it. I feel it. That is why I'm happy to extend the definition of yoga way past the asana practice. For some, I think that is the last place they'll encounter yoga. For some, it's a perfect golf swing, being in the zone during a tennis match, throwing a pot on the wheel, getting lost in solving a puzzle, any action where we exhibit pure, uninterrupted, undivided focus... that's the truest yoga.
Ask yourself, if you've experienced flow state --- where it just is and you are and there is little separation between engagement and outcome ---you remember how great it feels. It feels like yoga, like union, like really being connected and linked on so many levels. It feels good, it makes you feel good.
I can provide y'all a bunch of science behind it, but we went there pretty heavy yesterday. There are lots of conclusive studies that show multitasking actually elevates stress responses and minimizes productivity and the new common wisdom is to dedicate specific time to specific tasks or projects and - here's the kicker - even Internet-based companies have 'recess' or 'tech-free time'. Many high-tech offices have a one-hour period a day where you aren't allowed to make or take calls, to have meetings or be scheduled to do something. You simply pick one focus and work.
Try it - pick something easy to minimize. I've been driving my '65 VW lately, it only has an old, cranky radio. It basically gets two stations. I've recently decided it's more fun to drive and be involved in driving her then it is to listen to the absolute bullshit talk-radio that fills my stations. I'm the kind of person who loves to have music in the car, so I mostly found myself turning it on, being plagued by distraction as I wait for music. Now, I just leave it off, and if I need music, I sing!
Reduce just a few distractions. Go to dinner with a friend and leave your phone in the car!!! Take a technology-free day, no media, no computers. Give it a try and let me know how it feels. Find something worthy of your focus and give it your all.
Give thanks and praise - check back tomorrow for Step 7 - Move!