October 22, 2019

Mono-Tasking…disconnecting to find connection.

A good friend and I went off to a yoga retreat last weekend. It was in a remote hostel outside Inglewood, which is outside of New Plymouth, in the middle of nowhere. The Middle Of Nowhere. It was very beautiful, reminded me a little of Devon where I come from in England. Lots of rolling pastures and green and lush. It was also out of mobile reception. No calls, no texts, no emails, no TV and no internet. It was also in true strict ashram style: no tea, no coffee, no meat, no eggs, no dairy, no alcohol. (but there were mung beans. For breakfast). Whoa.

To begin it was an assault on the senses to have all the things I take for granted that are under my control (when I eat, when I wake, and being able to get hold of anyone or any information anytime I like) removed. It was very tempting to get focused on what was missing when I realised that would be to miss the point of the experience. By removing so many things it really opened up the space to experience more of what was actually present.

The mung beans actually started to taste good(ish). There, with no TV or distraction, food tasted better as it had my full focus. I lay on the grass between classes and watched the dragonflies buzzing lazily about and read. And I didn’t feel guilty about all the other things I ‘should’ be doing or checking my email because quite simply there was nothing else to do. There was more joy in the simple things; a hot shower; the chickpea fritters; the body moving through the yoga asanas; the silent but tangible energy of the group meditations. It was as if I was experiencing the sensations of regular things more than I usually do. Everything felt more intense.

And I realised that this was because I was Mono-Tasking. The increasingly unusual state of doing just one thing at a time.  I am a demon multi-tasker, and even when I am actually doing only one thing I am usually thinking about doing another when its complete. This leads to overwhelm and stress and also I can see it sucks a little bit of joy out of the present. By checking emails whist watching TV and eating I may be a Multitasking Queen but I am not getting the full joy of any one of those three experiences. I am short changing myself of the joy inherent in a fab TV show, an email  from a friend, or a well cooked meal  by splitting my attention in so many directions. When all the distractions and choices were gone, and I had disconnected from the net, what was left was a far greater connection to myself and the simple pleasures of everyday life. By ceasing the flow of other peoples information, opinions and news I had the clarity to connect with my own voice.

It felt good to do that. It was a good lesson, and one I intend to incorporate into my everyday life with ‘unplugged’ time  each week.

What would a little Mono-Tasking do for you?  Do you like the idea of unplugged time?