Many years ago, I heard this piece on NPR about how multitasking is a delusion. We think we are doing more than thing at once but what’s actually happening is that our brain is moving from one single thing to another single think at such an unbelievable pace that it makes us think we are doing multiple things at the same time.
Fast forward a decade plus to Nick & Lindsay of the Side Show Opera on America’s Got Talent.
Nick swallows razor blades! Lindsay throw knives! Nick lays on a bed of nails, with a cinder block on his torso and then Lindsay breaks the cinder block while blindfolded with a flaming mallet!
All of this while Nick is singing opera.
For reals. I couldn’t even make this up if I tried.
After their last audition on the show, one of the judges noted that much of which seemed to be doing depended on precision, but each “talent” was not very precise at all and each individual things merely mediocre.
Of course it was! As science tells us, we can’t possibly manage all of these things at one time. Our brains just don’t really work that way.
The yogis of ol’ didn’t need our modern science to tell them this. In fact, if they saw Nick & Lindsay they would understand the judge’s comments completely.
The truth is that the mind is better at focusing on one thing.
But the Yoga Sutras give us guidance for these scenarios, from a cluttered house to a busy mind to a knife-throwing, razor blade swallowing, opera singing extravaganza.
Sutra 1.12 tells us that with practice and dispassion we can stop our mind from it’s faux-multitasking ways.
Sutra 1.13 goes on to say that once we have a goal, our effort to keep our focus on the goal is called practice.
“Patanjali’s approach to yoga requires you to find an object on which you can focus your mind. Without that focal point you will not be successful in withdrawing the scattered forces of your mind from the external world. Even if somehow you do succeed in withdrawing your mind from the external world, it will begin to wander because the mind does not know how to stay in one place without support.” Pandit Rajmani Tigunait
As the year winds down into fall, it can feel like the demands on our time and energy are ramping up.
This makes fall a great time for us to get support to renew our focus on what really matters. No side shows or illusions about our ability to multi-task.
So give me a call, Nick & Lindsay.
You too, my friend.
Yoga has the goods to help us refocus and shape our reality into what serves us best. All we need to do is show up and be willing to practice.
See you on the mat!