Are you constantly thinking about “What’s Next”? When we built our house many years ago, my husband constantly pushed our builder to move faster by constantly asking “what’s next?” Not able to maintain focus on what he was currently doing but instead forced to look at what he was going to do next caused our builder to make some serious mistakes. In Tai Chi class this morning, I noticed an advanced student moving carelessly through a movement she knew, and when I asked her what she was thinking about, she said “the next movement”. “Let’s just be in the now,” I replied, “and think about the next movement when we are there.”
Those who are constantly jumping ahead may also try to do several things simultaneously. Several years ago, I was watching a talk/news show in which they were talking about ADD and how some adults might be creating this disorder within themselves by constantly having two or more things going at the same time. I was doing something else as I listened to them say that when we do two or more things at a time, it can take 50% more time and brainpower to accomplish the task. I don’t know about you, but I need all the brainpower I can muster, so I promptly stopped my dual duties and turned my full attention to the speakers. They went on to say that if we were doing three things at one time, we would probably get all three done more efficiently, better, and with more satisfaction if we did one to completion before we began the next one. And guess what, we would also reduce our stress level and increase our learning abilities.
Furthermore, we are setting terrible examples for our children. We tell them not to talk on the phone, text or watch tv while doing their homework, while we fly past doing too many things at once. Stop. Look at your child. Are they just enjoying a conversation with a friend? Or are they answering text messages while chatting away, never making eye contact with their friend, and “Googling” the latest event on the IPad, all at the same time. Wonder where they learned that?
What we eat and drink also contribute to the “what’s next” syndrome. If you are so hyped up on caffeine that your mind is going a hundred miles an hour, how do you slow down long enough to give the “what’s now” the attention it needs? In my tai chi (tai chi) and qigong (chi kung) classes, I am constantly reminding my students to focus only on what they are doing at any given moment. Use only the amount of energy and muscle tension to accomplish the task at hand. Anything else is extra and we do nothing extra! (Completely opposite from some current performance standards). If you tense and/or raise your should or elbow to raise your wrist, you doing extra, wasting energy and using your body inefficiently. If this were a financial situation, you would be squandering your money. If, while you are supposed to be relaxing and focusing on your body and how it is flowing from one movement to the next and you are mentally compiling a grocery or errand list, or thinking about anything that does not concern the movement you are doing, that’s extra. And finally, if you are thinking about what movement comes next instead of being in the one you are doing, that’s extra. And here’s the kicker–you are spending time and money on a wonderful self-healing exercise system, but you are cheating yourself out of getting your money’s worth! Now take the words tai chi out of this paragraph and insert anything on which you spend time, effort and money. The result is the same. You are cheating yourself out of quality time and satisfaction and maybe even wasting money.
Stop the mind chatter by focusing on something simple such as your breathing. Go outside and be in the moment with nature, watching a bird fly over or a butterfly float by. Sink your toes into the grass and feel the texture. Be there! Now inhale slowing and deeply, focusing only on the breath being brought deep into your body. Now exhale slowly, focusing only on the breath coming from deep in body and then flowing out from the body. When you can count to ten inhales and exhales (count one inhale, one exhale, two inhale, two exhale, etc.) without thinking about anything else, you have reprogrammed your whole system. If you think about anything else before you get to 10, start over at “one inhale, one exhale”. If you are used to having “monkey mind” and flying around doing ten things at once, you will not find this easy, however, if you stick with it, you will find your focus is better, your mind is quiet and peaceful, decisions are easier and physically, your blood pressure and other health issues may improve. By the way, it took me three months to get to ten inhales, ten exhales without veering off course. I did have a monkey mind and I thought I was only successful if I was doing ten things at once.
All of this is about slowing down your pace. Accept the fact that you are not wonder woman or man and make a list of only the most important things you want to get done today. Do them in an orderly way, completing each before moving on to the next. Because it’s written down, you don’t have to constantly try to remember what’s next, so your brain can relax into the task at hand. Give it a try. You may surprise yourself by getting more don in less time by s-l-o-w-i-n-g down!Important Note! The information in Wholistically Speaking is for educational purposes only and should not be used to diagnose and/or treat diseases. If you have a health problem, I highly recommend you consult a competent health practitioner and educate yourself before embarking on any course of treatment.