A meditation on mindfulness

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The other evening I happened to notice I was grinding coffee beans with my left hand while shaking the salad dressing bottle with my right. I’ve pretty much been this way (doing two things at once) since I became a parent many years ago.

My multitasking nature is well-documented by my family.

Here’s a typical snapshot: I’m folding a piece of laundry while walking to the room it needs to go. I’m brushing my teeth while opening the blinds. While vacuuming with my left hand I’m scanning the landscape like a human vacuum for stuff that can be picked up, put away or thrown away with my free right hand.

You might find me simultaneously opening a container while closing a cupboard, rinsing dishes while putting away glassware, putting away dishes while stirring a pot, filling a water glass while putting silverware away, and turning on my laptop while pouring milk on my cereal.

I call it efficiency; others call it obsessive.

It’s sort of a mental game — what else can I be doing at the same time I’m doing something else?

My father was truly ambidextrous. He could pitch, bat and bowl both left- and right-handed. And he was a solid athlete most all of his life.

While predominantly left-handed, for some reason I’ve always tossed a Frisbee with my right. I also switch hands every so often on my computer mouse. And I’ve always said I can bowl equally poorly either left- or right-handed — and do.

My multitasking habit shifts over to road biking where my motto is simple: “Never stop pedaling.” I drink from my water bottle while pedaling, tear open and consume nutrition bars while pedaling, and put on and take off clothing layers while pedaling.

Perhaps this is why I picked up a book on tape called “Mindfulness Practice” at the library before a recent road trip.

I do think slowing down a bit could have beneficial effects for the majority of us — calm our “monkey minds,” (a life-coachy term I’d heard bandied about several years ago), help us to have greater clarity, be more focused, attentive, and well, more mindful.

Perhaps the inevitably of aging will accomplish the same, but for now I’ve been listening to this guy from Texas with a Ph.D. from Harvard in religious studies talk about how gently focusing on and accepting our minds’ continual ebb and flow of thoughts can eventually free us from distraction so we can be more present in the moment.

In his 12-CD, 24-lecture series he covers sitting, standing, walking and even driving mindfulness meditation.

In the 30-minute lecture on eating meditation, for example, he talks you through step-by-step on how to be fully aware while eating a tangerine. My son asked if it could work with a different food and suggested bacon meditation.

For standing meditation, he suggests your walk need not be more than 10 to 12 feet long before you turn around and repeat.

And in driving meditation he talks about focusing on the sounds, sensations and vibrations of your car, while keeping your eye on the road.

Unsurprisingly, I listened to the entire 12-hour series while driving.

Community Editor Carol Marino may be reached at 758-4440 or community@dailyinterlake.com.

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