Multitasking is my Drug of Choice

One of my students reported to me this week he has been meditating consistently twice a day for ten minutes each time. I waste so much time on stupid things, I definitely can make time to meditate and I’m always glad when I do.

I’m always glad when I do. So true! In all my years of practicing meditation, I’ve never once regretted it. It always feels worthwhile. Still, every time I sit down to meditate—and I mean every single time—as soon as I sit down, I begin to subvert myself. I immediately remember two or three critical tasks I’ve forgotten to do. The struggle begins. Should I really be sitting around doing nothing for twenty minutes or should I just attend to these couple of urgent matters before I forget about them again? Somehow I have consistently won this battle for the good guys. In other words, I manage to put off for twenty minutes more getting to the important business of my life and sit in stillness.

The bargain of being mortal is that there is simply not enough time to accomplish everything we’ve set out to do. A more rational species might accept that, but that’s just not who we are, at least not who I am. So when it’s my time of day to sit in meditation instead of attending to my list of tasks, I struggle to commit to the sit.

As a wise woman once told me, I am someone who likes to be finished before I get started. Multitasking is my drug of choice. Although I am a devotee of sitting in stillness, that does not mean in any given moment I would choose practicing meditation over crossing one more thing off the most prolific part of my life: my to-do list.

But once I take my seat and surrender, the magic happens. The pause, the disconnect, the opportunity to start again afresh or at least what feels fresh. That’s the thing that feels so good and the part that keeps me coming back. I f*ck up, I get distracted, I’ll simply start again. Realizing I have the godlike power to allow myself to start again is in itself empowering. All the things I’ve left undone wait obediently, albeit impatiently, for me to finish my practice. It is the only part of my day where I finally feel in control. For a moment.

This is not the time to figure out the damn word that’s hiding from me somewhere in the muddy recesses of my memory, nor the time to figure out the most efficient way to organize my taxes or whether that utility bill actually is on autopay. It’s not even the time to think about how delicious rice pudding is and wonder why I’ve never cooked it for myself because, after all, how difficult could that be? It is only the time for sitting, paying close attention to my breath, and noticing the flock of thoughts fluttering about with no place to land.

When I’m done, I’m more comfortable with being me. More comfortable with overcommitted, impulsive, sociable yet shy, sarcasm-loving, gossip-savoring, sensitive me.

Twenty minutes of sitting and literally doing nothing during this relentlessly frenzied life. This is my accomplishment.

It’s twenty minutes of me not trying to improve or accomplish anything and that, my friends, turns out to be life changing.

Now I just need to do it again tomorrow.

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