“No man (or woman) is lonely eating spaghetti; it requires to much attention” Christopher Morley.
I love this quote. I saw it first on the wall of a cook shop in Islington. I don’t know if Mr Morley was a meditator but his little riff nicely illustrates the point we can only attend to one thing at a time. Whether meditating or eating spaghetti. Our attention may fly from one thing to the next and back again imperceptibly rapidly .. but it is only in one place at one time.
At work we call this multi-tasking.. the ability to manage many concurrent activities at “seemingly” the same time. I say seemingly because it gives the impression of thinking about many things “at the same time” In fact they are sequential moments of attention. Its a great facility to do this but its downside is the energy it takes and the quality of attention given in each area. The fact is we sometimes need to attend fully to one task and set aside other tasks to obtain depth of focus and quality. At other times we need to multi-task to cope with demands.
Can we multi-task in a more aware way.. knowing we are doing it and fully transitioning from one task to another and back again. Watching our attention switch and travel. There are times when I have experienced this, and it can actually be exhilarating and rewarding. It requires being in the moment .. albeit a busy moment.. entirely. What is more mindful than that?