We are very used to multi-tasking. Often it isn't even about getting more than one thing done at a time, but about distracting ourselves until we're finished with an activity. I can't even wait in line anymore without being on my phone! However, not only is multi-tasking bad for our efficiency and proficiency, it's detrimental to our ability to be mindful. Sometimes multi-tasking cannot be helped. Dinner has to get on the table and you have to keep tabs on what your toddler is doing, otherwise you'll either have really hungry children or a really big mess to clean up after. Sometimes, though, we get so used to having our attention on multiple things at once that merely paying attention to one thing at a time is boring. In these cases, it's important to push past the uncomfortable feelings of boredom and give ourselves a chance to be mindful.
Much like meditation, informal mindfulness practices are about being present in whatever you are doing. You can use mundane things such as going for a walk, doing the dishes, eating, showering or brushing your teeth as informal mindfulness practices. Find your breath, try to be aware of the what's going on around you, and when you get distracted, gently bring your attention back to what you are doing. If you are washing dishes, you are concentrating on washing the dishes, not planning what you're going to make for supper the next day. You are aware of all the sights, smells and sensations that go along with washing the dishes. Much like in meditation, we can feel fidgety or allow ourselves to get distracted by what we are going to do next. However, recognizing and staying with this discomfort is part of mindfulness, and can help us to deal with other uncomfortable feelings that will come about as a result of daily life.
Ideally we would make time in our day for both formal and informal meditation practices. However, if you find the idea of meditating daunting or you don't think you can make the time meditate, starting with an informal meditation practice can be a great way to experiment with the concept of mindfulness.
For Further Thought:
1) Are you aware of when you are multi-tasking?
2) Do you find ever yourself unnecessarily multi-tasking?
3) What obstacles prevent you from adding an informal meditation practice to your life?
For Further Reading:
Daily Good: 5 Ways To Bring Mindfulness Into Everyday Life