The Many Tiers of Mindfulness
Throughout this blog, I have mentioned that there are many types of mindfulness practices, and they are not mutually exclusive. One, of course, is the meditation practice – sitting quietly, trying to clear your mind, allowing thoughts to be as they are sans judgment, and letting those thoughts go, in order to regain your present moment awareness.
However, when you are finished with your meditation practice for the day, you should not simply check mindfulness off your daily to-do list. Mindfulness can also be practiced throughout your day – as a lifestyle. There are several different techniques that you can immediately incorporate into your day. But be warned, you will not master them as quickly as you can implement them. One of my favorite practices, which I was not practicing before I found mindfulness (thanks again cancer – it is much appreciated!) is single-tasking.
East versus West
Mindfulness has taught me that the Western Hemisphere, and specifically the United States of America working classes, are fueled by stress. We work our jobs in order to survive – everyone does. However, HOW we go about our 9-5 is something that the West has, in my own opinion, absolutely demoralized. So much so, that I can almost guarantee you that the Eastern countries laugh at our stress-driven lives. This sort of stress is the reason why the United States is never atop the World Happiness Report. Do you not believe me? Check this article out – it states that we are currently No. 14 on this report.
Now, I am never one to throw any political jargon into a conversation, but “Make America Great Again” does not coincide with “Make America Happy Again.”
Disclaimer: I am not expressing support, nor objection, to any political figure in this post -I promise.
The practice of single-tasking is not an idea that will allow the United States to crack the top 10 happiest countries overnight. However, I have found that it has introduced a considerable amount of stillness into my day, whether it be at work or at home.
Think about your job, or your tasks at home. How often are you juggling several different things all at once? Do not try to convince me that you are doing otherwise. I have been practicing single-tasking for years, and even I find my hands full every so often.
The idea is simple. When you are working on a project, focus on that task ONLY. Put your phone to the side, close your web browser, and work on this task. Do not stress about the deadline. Once you are able to fully incorporate single-tasking into your day, your planning of tasks will be one of the initial beneficiaries.
There are so many ways to single-task a project. You can set aside one exact hour and then take a 15 minute break and get back to it later that day or tomorrow, or you could tell yourself that this single task is the only piece of work you will be working on until completion. Just do whatever is comfortable for the way you are wired.
I find that creating a to-do list is so helpful when you practice single-tasking. Create this list, and then pick one that you believe is priority. In my phone, I have a to-do list for work and a to-do list for home. Simple, right?
If someone tries to interrupt you (depending on the situation, of course – whether it be your superior or a loved one in need), tell that person that you will put them in your queue, and then continue with your present-moment task.
Take this advice from someone who, pre-diagnosis, probably would have put an excel spreadsheet assigned to me above a loved one in need. I know that sounds awful, and I cringe at even writing something like that, but it is true. This mindset, in a nutshell, is the majority of the current day working American.
Slow down, get that task done and check it off. Be present in your single-tasking. After all, is this not what mindfulness is all about?