Thursday, July 16, 2015

distracted is the new black

as i did my morning scan of what happened on the iPad while i was asleep, it was such a relief to read this piece on chucking mindfulness out the window. i thought it was going to be a humorous piss-take on all that mindfulness claptrap that's so pervasive out there these days. but instead it was a thoughtful and in-depth look at what's wrong with mindfulness (can you say narcissism?) and why it doesn't necessarily make you happy.

i've actually been suspicious of mindfulness for awhile. and while i relish my daily moment, camera in hand, where i wander the backyard, looking for my photo opportunity for the day, in reality that moment lasts only 5 minutes. the rest of my day is spent in a rather distracted state - juggling tasks, articles and emails on two computers (sometimes 3), tethered to my scribbled to-do list. in between, i make myself a cup of coffee, put on a load of laundry, occasionally vacuum and fight a never-ending battle against the spiderwebs and dust. i plan dinner, i pick strawberries, i run to the store for milk, i send some emails, i work on blog pieces and articles and my freelance tasks, sometimes i go to the office, but often i work on all of this from home. i feed the bunnies, throw the horses some hay, prepare for community board meetings, discover new podcasts, read voraciously, drive the child to a friend's house. and while i spend a lot of my day in front of screens, it sometimes feels like i never sit down. and to be honest, the more of these activities there are, the more content i feel. my moments of restlessness and discontent come when i'm not busy enough, when my mind doesn't have a million things to process.

i find my moments of downtime in the midst of all of that...when i'm working in the garden, i'm usually listening to a podcast. while i make dinner, i have a series going on netflix. when i'm waiting for the child at the train station, i'm checking facebook or instagram on my phone. while i eat a solitary lunch, i scan the new york times on my iPad or catch an episode of sex and the city and decouple for awhile. these moments send me back to my tasks ready to concentrate again. but are they mindful? i'm not sure. and i'm unconvinced that they have to be.

i think we naturally seek towards the things we need...when the writing isn't going anywhere, i get up and take a walk or just hang up some laundry and start a new load. sometimes i take a short 20 minute nap. then i come back and i'm able to work. and i instinctively do these things. sometimes, yes, i wait too long and try to force the words to come and that never works. but stepping away, doing something else, and then coming back always works. it seems that allowing myself to be distracted from the task at hand is a good thing for that task in the long run.

maybe mindfulness is just another word for listening to yourself and what you need in order to get things done. and maybe what you need is to juggle 20 tasks at once, shifting between them at lightning speed. maybe that makes you tick. and you know what? that's just fine. maybe distracted is the new black.

and seriously, do go read the piece on good. and while it's a little bit hard to take someone named taffy seriously, don't be put off by that. it's definitely worth reading.

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is this the perfect american roadtrip?


Molly said...

EXCELLENT article - thank you so much for pointing me there.
I'm totally this person too and I love it. AND for me, having a thousand thoughts while I fold laundry or cook dinner or fill party packs like Taffy is being in the present, in MY present - in all it's chaotic, marbled, mishmash beauty.
Nice one, thank you x

Feisty Harriet said...

What a fantastic article! And I really enjoyed your post. I feel like my "present" is half inside my jumbled up brain which bounces from topic to topic like a pinball, but never allows me to get bored. And I prefer that. I feel like there are areas where I could slow down and appreciate the moment, but I don't want to make that a regular hour-by-hour habit.