As I write this blog entry, I am also occasionally checking my emailing, texting, watching Top Chef and sipping wine. Multi-tasking! And yet, it seems completely normal and entirely underwhelming to do five things at once. Sure, as a mother (or any adult) you must develop the ability to do more than one thing at a time. You cannot just focus only on one child at a time. That could be disastrous, not to mention lethal with small children.
But my kids are in bed now and even when they’re up I’m often “watching” them, making lunches, answering ridiculous questions about what a Coy Wolf is, listening to the news, texting (again) and popping chickpeas in my mouth. Clearly, I am overstimulated and my guess is that many of you are too.
Of course, we almost need to be in constant contact with our devices for the security of our jobs — we are expected to be reachable at all times. We have to check email and voicemail all day. If you don’t, it is assumed by others you don’t take your work seriously and feared by you that some other constant checker will get your business. And then there are the personal matters. If my family is trying to reach me I can often get a call on my cell phone, then my house phone if I don’t answer my cell and then a text to ask where I am. So, now it has become quite normal to do several things all at the same time.
Instead, imagine eating at the table with no electronics interfering. Maybe food would taste better. Imagine talking on the phone and dedicating your entire attention with whomever you are speaking. It might be more gratifying than sending quirky emoticons via texts, which I confess I love as much as my dad used to love clip art. Just imagine doing one thing at one time and being entirely focused on that one thing. It is this exact ability that I believe draws so many of us to a yoga practice. It is the only time of the day during which I and other practitioners must shut off all electronics and do only one thing: asana.
Okay, yes, I keep my phone nearby in case my babysitter needs me, but I’m not focused on it at all. On-call doctors in the class keep theirs nearby — again there’s no incessant checking of it. It’s been unglued from the hand. It’s taboo. The embarrassment of having your phone go off in the middle of class, god forbid savasana, is so excruciating that students either pretend it’s not their phone or are profusely apologetic. It is an electronic-free haven. It’s joyous and freeing. The absorption we can find within the practice because of this taboo allows the mind to stop with all the chatter that is incited or elicited mostly by playing with too many gadgets too much of the time.
Although I hope to one day develop a home practice that is as invigorating as the practice I enjoy in a studio with others, it is yet a talent I have been able to sophistically develop — by any means. Aside from letting myself off too many times with a gentle practice, I’m too distracted! I don’t have to be embarrassed in front of myself when my phone goes off. Even if I shut the ringer off, I can still see it light up. I take a peak and my mind wanders off to who called and what they wanted. Sometimes I don’t see the harm in doing surya namaskar while watching CNN. You get my point.
For this very reason, I dial my day by when I will be on my mat with others who breath with me, work with me, sweat with me and inspire me. It’s a strange phenomenon. You go to a studio and everyone is chitchatting before class. We know much about each others lives and care for each other. Yet, once the class starts the focus shifts to, well, focus, eka-grata. The monkey mind shuts off and we get glimpses of clarity here and there. We find our real Selves that haven’t been veiled by all the media tools at our disposal.
And then savasana ends, we say our goodbyes and thank you’s, and check our phones on the way to the car.