So I am going through my usual routine of labored breathing and painful sweating at my gym last night when another masochist on one of those fancy elliptical contraptions caught my eye. There she strode one hand holding onto one of the striding handles as the other grasped her trusty cell phone while her legs and arms moved almost imperceptibly. Yes, she was kinda exercising but mostly chatting. I pondered about her intention at that moment. Was she distracted, bored, disinterested in her activity, not ready to invest in the workout? She continued this process as I lugged myself through my exercise routine. This is a scene I witness at my gym and in a variety of social settings on a daily basis. The commuter on the train holding an open magazine in one hand, a cup of fancy coffee in another and phone to ear with a strategically angled shoulder; the mother pushing her infant in a stroller down the street, while lost in conversation or web surfing on, you guessed it, her phone; the business professional racing down the street on the phone mindlessly passing people in need of assistance, racing against the light to save a few seconds for some inane reason. My personal favorite is the dog owner who, while allegedly taking their pooch for a stroll, will stop for a prolonged period of time to consort on their cell or ponder jibber on the web, while Fido sits waiting patiently and painfully for that walk to actually begin or continue. And, the ever so common and exceedingly mindless car, truck and yes, motorcycle driver hurtling down the road, cell in hand, talking, texting, reading; a map, a book, a menu, napping or shaving with brain mostly disengaged. There are so many examples. They all make me want to scream!
Articles on Mindfulness abound on the web and it appears to be a hot topic of conversation throughout our world today. Heck, it has even caught on in the magical world of Oprah. Ya know, being keenly aware of what you are doing in the moment while staying focused on that activity and nothing else.
This concept is highlighted in an article that I wrote years ago about mindfully walking down the stairs. The gist of it highlights that, when walking down the stairs, you should only be focused on watching and feeling your feet touching each step. What’s the benefit of doing all of that you ask? Well, the big one is, you will never fall down those stairs; unless of course a loving family member decides to trip you for laughs (mine would). Mindfulness is an easy concept to discuss, but requires commitment to achieve. Having focused awareness of what you are doing, feeling or thinking in the moment can pay huge benefits when adhered to.
But daily observation of our meandering citizenry has led me to wonder why, if it is such a highly recommended practice, is there so little evidence of it’s existence?
I am sure there are many reasons. It is a concept that takes time away from the “in the moment” excitement, constant stimulation, immediate rewards, shiny marble world we live in.
It’s not glitzy, but it sure is beneficial in helping us stay on track, reach our goals more consistently, keep us out of harm’s way, identify our needs and have them fulfilled more and connect with our inner self and others more deeply.
Chances are that you are only doing one thing in any given moment of your life and if you are trying to do multiple things at the exact same time you are probably experiencing pressure/stress and not doing any very well.
So in summation your honor, I’d say, know what is most important to be attending to in any given moment and make sure that this is what you are doing and doing it to the best of your ability.
Whether you are visiting with a friend, eating dinner, attending to an assignment at work, drinking a favorite beverage, talking on the phone or yes, working out at the gym presumably to be healthier, you will be much better served if you give each event your undivided attention.
An ol geezer like me may be out of touch with the dazzle and excitement of the technological world we live in, but it seems to me if I am distracted by all of the grand electronic wizardry at our disposal, I am likely not appreciating the moment that I am in, or the people who share that moment with me nor am I performing at my best.