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|Stopping for Joshua Bell - Page 5|
We are what we pay attention to. Sadly, most of the time we are not attending to the world or ourselves. Psychologists estimate we have sixty thousand to seventy thousand thoughts a day, 99 percent of which are more or less what we thought yesterday. Our habits run our lives. Most of the time, we are phoning it in.
In all my years as a therapist, I have never seen people as rushed and distracted as they are now. Everyone is too busy all the time. We have become a nation of multitaskers. By definition, multitasking means the mind is divided and not fully focused on any one event. A very simple definition of mindfulness is doing one thing at a time. If we are planting some turnips, we are doing it properly. If we are reading to a child, that is all we are doing.
I have a long history of doing two or three or seventeen things at once. I am cooking, but planning my next road trip. I am talking on the phone, but wondering if I have a can of tuna handy for lunch. I am bird-watching, but worrying if I have offended someone. I am walking, but even as I smell the French lilacs in the air and notice the heron on the lake, I am thinking of presidential politics. Yet slowly I am discovering that life is best when I am one place at a time; that is to say that when I am cooking, I am cooking. Well, okay, maybe stirring and listening to the radio, but I am not planning a Father's Day party for the extended family.
Sometimes inhabiting the moment is simple indeed. We hear Louis Armstrong or Chopin on the radio. We taste our lover's kisses, the pomegranate juice or the salt air. We smell the sage or the jasmine blossom.
Animals can pull us into the moment. One of the reasons pets are so popular is that when we are with them, we share their pleasure in being here now. Pets do not live in clock time, and they allow us to rest from chronological time. We join them in older, animal rhythms.