Mindful multi-tasker!

Mindful multi-tasker!

My sisters and I grew up emulating our mother and yet retained the ‘magpie’ tendency of our paternal side. We multi-tasked with aplomb. Surprisingly, my husband and both my brothers-in-law have no such word in their dictionary.

We watched TV while peeling peas, or pressing our clothes. We chatter simultaneously, yet we know what the other person said without hearing a word! Most women have to multi-task at some time in their lives. Women have been donning so many hats across centuries that this trait is expected of them. I have seen women in Mumbai trains chopping vegetables, stitching buttons or knitting. Because of this tendency to multi-task, many women are prone to stress and anxiety leading to physical ailments. As my cousin quipped of his octogenarian mother, “her mind is already on a chore in the kitchen while her body remains in the drawing-room; hence she goes about with her head bent forward like an ostrich!”

Most people pride themselves on their ability to multi-task. There was a time when this talent was considered an asset. But of late, the concept of multi-tasking has given way to mindfulness. Being in the present is touted to be all powerful. It de-clutters our thoughts and helps us expend less energy. It keeps stress at abeyance, helps us to be more humane. It also makes us more productive.

According to psychology, mindfulness is a state of active and open attention to the present. When you are mindful, you carefully observe your thoughts and feelings without judging them. Instead of letting your life pass you by, mindfulness means living in the moment and waking up to your current experience, rather than dwelling on the past or anticipating the future. But these days, social networking sites have taken away that privilege, instead they have made distraction the norm.

Taming the mind, an ancient Buddhist technique, is actually easy to imbibe only if we know how to. Simple tasks like avoiding channel surfing, sipping a cup of tea on the balcony or keeping our mobile phones at a distance and muting all notifications, help in taming our minds.

It is said that listening to a complete conversation without planning your reply is supposed to work wonders. A few restaurants in Hyderabad and Mumbai have started a concept of dinner without distraction and encourage patrons to keep their mobile phones at a distance, and enjoy a rebate for their meal.

Despite the obvious benefits of mindfulness, the women folk would find it difficult to let go of the inherent quality of multi-tasking.

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