Mindfulness Video Part 6

Part Six: The How Skills - One Mindfully

The How Skills:  One Mindfully
What's the second mindfulness skill? One mindfully. One mindfulness is the opposite of mindless. 

So ask yourself, how often do you do things mindlessly? What do I mean by that? Well, I mean, how often do you do things in an automatic way, sort of a non-conscious, automatic way without thinking about what you're doing?  For example, have you ever been driving somewhere where you were the car driver, and then you got where you going but you had no idea how you got there? You were thinking about home, or what you were going to do when you got home or what you were going to do when you got somewhere? You were talking to someone else?  In other words, you were doing everything else including driving? In other words, you were doing five things plus driving? That's the opposite of one mindful. 

Being one mindful is also the opposite of multitasking.  Most of the time when I start trying to teach mindfulness skills, especially to professionals, they say 'Ok, look, I can do it but I've got to do two things at once.  It's the only way I can be efficient.  I... I'll never get anything done.  You can't ask me to do that.  I'll do everything else but not this.'  That's a very typical response. Are you saying the same thing? 

What you may not know is that people have actually done research on this. People have gotten subjects to come into research and then in the research they give them a number of tasks to be done.  And they ask one group of people to do everything mindfully.  And they ask another group of people to try to get everything done as quickly as possible, multi-tasking.   And then they look to see who's the most efficient.  Who do you think it is? It's the person who does it one mindfully.

Now you may be thinking 'Well, the reason why multi-tasking was inefficient in that research is because they had subjects doing three things, all of which needed their attention.  But how about when I have a lot of things to do and only some of the things need my attention. Like why in the world would I pay attention to washing the dishes when I could be solving some problem in my mind.  Why not wash dishes and think about my problems?'  Or 'I don't need to pay attention to driving.  I get home anyway, so what's the point? I can have a really important conversation with someone or I can listen to music or I can do other things. So it's really ridiculous.' 

Now that may be true.  So what's the point of one mindfulness in those situations?  The real question to ask yourself is, how full do you want to live life?  How much are you willing to miss in your very own life?  One mindfulness has to do with not missing your own life. 

What is one mindfulness? Well, it's actually very simple.  It really is 'one thing at a time'.  If you're eating, just eat. If you're talking, just talk.  If you're worrying, just worry.  Throw your mind into what you're doing and do that one thing.

So the idea of this skill, one mindfully, is to one mindfully observe, one mindfully describe, one mindfully participate. When you're observing, only observe.  When you're describing, only describe.  And when you're participating, throw yourself in; just participate totally. 

Now doing one thing at a time can actually be difficult. One thing that makes it hard, is just not liking the current moment that you are in.  Often when we don't like what's going on now, or we don't like doing what we're doing, we don't like doing one thing, we either start doing something else at the same time or we start thinking about something else.  So that's one thing that makes it really hard. 
The second thing that makes it really hard is when the past and the future get in the way.  That's a big one. Have you ever noticed how worrying about the past or thinking about the future can really interfere with the present?

I had a client who had a lot of chronic pain.  She had this terrible disorder that just gave her so much physical pain  I... it was just agony. She would call me sometimes on the telephone just to tell me how awful it was and it would be really interesting.  She would be saying things like 'Oh, it hurts! It's just been going on so long!  It's never going to end!'  I would say 'Listen, you've go so much pain in the present - you've got plenty of suffering. You've got enough suffering without having to suffer everything from the past and everything from the future. You've got enough in the present. Keep your mind in the present, this one second.'

We only have to live this one second, so if you've got to suffer it makes a lot more sense, suffer this moment. Just one moment; just this moment. 

I'll give you an example.  So imagine you're walking somewhere.  So you're just walking.  So imagine that.  Doing nothing else.  You're not doing one other thing. Just walking.  Now lets add on to it.  You're walking down an aisle to go up some stairs to a podium to get your award. We'll compare that to walking to the bathroom.  And we'll compare that to... what if you were walking to the guillotine?  You're going to get your head chopped off.

Do you know almost everybody in those situations would feel different while they're walking. The person walking to get an award, how do you think they might feel?  Happy?  The person walking to the bathroom, may be neutral. The person walking to the guillotine, probably miserable. The facts of the matter are though, what's the difference? You're not at the guillotine yet, you're just walking. You're not getting your award yet, you're just walking. 

That's the idea. The idea is do one thing and throw your whole mind into the one thing. Walking is walking.  Eating is eating.  What are you doing now? Watching.  Watching and listening. That's all you're doing now. Not one other thing.

So why practice this?  I'm going to give you three reasons. The first is more efficient. Doing one task at a time is more efficient than multi-tasking. So that's a good reason. 

The second reason is it allows you to live life to the fullest. If you're living life in the moment, you experience and can be aware of your entire life. You don't miss your life. You don't miss what's going on.  If you've got children, you live your children growing up.

The third reason is that life has enough suffering in the moment. If you practice one mindfulness, you just suffer the moment.  And suffering just the moment beats out suffering the future, the past, and the moment.  So in effect, it reduces your suffering. 

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