Friday, May 21, 2010

One Thing At A Time

I have a dharma buddy that I have been meditating with at least twice a week for almost two years. He likes to describe himself as a "Triple-A Type" personality, and I have to admit, he is one of the busiest, hardest working people I have ever met. 

Right now, however, he is in the middle of an extremely busy time in his life with work coming out of his ears that he feels he cannot turn away. Today, he practically begged me for help. My advice: Do one thing at a time.

There is a story about a Zen retreat where the Roshi told his students during a dharma talk, "Only do one thing at a time. If you eat, just eat. If you read, just read..." and so on. The next morning, when the retreatants went to breakfast, there was the Roshi eating a bowl of cereal and reading the New York Times. "Roshi!" the students exclaimed, "What are you doing? Last night you told us that when you eat just eat, and when you read just read!" The Roshi replied, "Yes, and when you eat and read, just eat and read."

The truth is that we do things much better when we do one thing at a time. We may think we are getting a lot done by multi-tasking, but study after study has shown this is not the case. For the next day or so, experiment with doing one thing at a time as much as possible. Start with easy things, like not eating breakfast while checking e-mail. And when you are doing something, really be present for it while you are doing it. Feel yourself taking a shower. Taste the food you are eating. Really be with the person you are talking to.

Gradually, by moving more mindfully through your daily tasks, you will get more done, and what you do will be done better.



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