The mind is made to wander – just take a few minutes to sit quietly and watch the mind flit around like a butterfly going from flower to flower.
With all that thinking, worrying, justifying, wondering, story telling, imagining, assuming, compulsive activity – it is a wonder we actually get anything done in a mindful way. But there is hope. There is a way to stop your mind from wandering.
Meditation and mindfulness are two buzz words that nearly everyone is familiar with. In a world where multitasking is considered a positive trait necessary for working, it is fascinating that there is so much interest in meditation and mindfulness – which are the opposites of multitasking.
We think that when we work on more than one task at a time, we will save time and get more done. That may occur, but it is more likely that we will get more done, more accurately and creatively, when we concentrate on just one thing at a time, with mindful attention and one-pointed energy.
More times than I would like to admit, I have rushed through projects only to find many mistakes and problems necessitating the project to be looked at again and corrected. When I take my time and focus my mind on one project at a time, I am much happier with the results.
This happens at work and at home. When I am multitasking – baking blueberry muffins, sorting the mail and ironing a shirt to wear the next day – the blueberry muffins often end up on the shall-we-say crispy side.
When I focus on just making the muffins, just sorting the mail and just ironing the shirt, each action becomes a meditation, my mind stops wandering and I am in the flow of attending to what is waiting for my undivided attention.
Have you ever been at a restaurant with a friend who is looking around the room as you are talking to him or her? That situation is a visual representation of a wandering mind. The person is distracted from what you are saying because he or she is not focused – his or her mind is wandering – “hmmm I wonder who just came through the door” or “I wonder if my boss realizes I’ve been at lunch for an hour and a half”.
The next time you find yourself and your mind multitasking, appreciate that awareness, take a few deep breaths and focus on one thing at a time – write one email at a time, mindfully drink your cup of tea, drive to work without a cup of coffee in hand – and you will have found the way to stop your mind from wandering – and have perfectly baked blueberry muffins.