I was watching a lecture on Intuition the other day, and the lecturer talked about ‘clearing the decks’. She was saying that you can not hope to connect with intuition if you’re mind is full of emotional and mental clutter, distracting stimuli etc. She also talked about allowing some ‘quiet time’ each day – free from the Internet, our phones, TV, Radio and all the sensory stimuli that we tend to use as a backdrop to our days with.
So many times I settle to a task – either on or off the computer – and I hear the tell-tale ‘ping’ of a Facebook or an email notification, a tweet, a text message or phone call – modern life bombards us with bleeps, clicks, rings and all manner of distractions. Working, as I do in IT and Multimedia work, it is very hard to ignore much of this for too long, but there should be clear lines between what we see as urgent and non-urgent distraction. Smartphones ‘enable’ us to be on Twitter or Facebook all the time. We can receive emails day or night on our phones too – and how many of those emails, tweets and posts are urgent? How many can we say about “Well that couldn’t wait until later”? If you work at home, it takes a lot of discipline to limit email reading/writing, social media updating, etc. to, say, twice a day. But if you work at home, or indeed try to do any activity at home, it is a discipline worth trying to cultivate.
After all this reflection on what the lecturer was saying, I decided to schedule in a ‘quiet hour’ each day. I allow myself some music, but other than that, I disconnect from the Internet, leave the TV off and so forth, and just sit mindfully or read – aiming for one-pointed concentration. (Ok – I guess my Kindle counts as ‘technology’, but it is something that is focused on rather than being distracted by).
It is having a very beneficial effect so far. The calmness I feel, and the preparedness to get down to a single task at a time (rather than trying to multi-task*) is quite liberating. It’s not really so surprising though. How could we calm our minds and be mindful when we have a constant stream of rapid stimuli?
*Modern thinking suggests that the ability to multi-task is a myth. When we think we are multi-tasking, we are actually ‘flitting’ from one task to another. Our thought-stream on any one task is therefore broken and we end up falling short of what we are capable of.