Tuesday, May 10, 2011

System Overload & a Pragmatic Approach to Meditation

Do you know that feeling when you're doing so many things, you just can't possibly do everything impeccably?  Our modern lives often demand this constant multitasking - make this call, type up meeting notes, take out the trash - and we're all toting the hardware (smart phone, laptop, mic'd headphones) to allow ourselves to be efficient enough to do it all at once.  Because we're taught that efficiency is time management. Time management is getting everything done in shorter and shorter amounts of time. Push, pull. Run. Run. Push, run, pull, run...

At a certain point, the mind stops being able to hold it all.  What was I just doing? Why did I open a new tab on my browser? And then you start forgetting things.  The obvious little things.  The car keys. The cell phone -- how could you possibly have forgotten your phone? What if you get a text and don't reply right away? Everyone will feel so slighted by your forgetfulness.

You get the idea.  It's really all gotten out of hand.  Hasn't it?

If you're feeling overwhelmed, the idea of sitting still and "calming the mind" can actually be anxiety provoking.  Where are you going to get the time for that? I've got so many other things to do. I can't just sit and do nothing, can I?

Well, maybe someday.  But if it's stressing you out to be still, you can notice it and make a study of it.  Ultimately though, it just might not be right for you in the moment.  So what is a zen-seeker to do?

Write it all down. When your mind is spinning circles on the hamster wheel of nonsense, pull it all out of your head.  Start journaling. If you can organize all the thoughts, or simply get them out of your head for a little while, you just might find a little space for calm.