One at a Time

Just one thing at a time … that is how much we can do well! Of course there are all those automatic tasks such as driving a car that we no longer need to think about when everything is going smoothly.  But although we can drive and converse with our passenger it is not as easy when we try negotiate traffic and speak on a mobile phone, because we can actually only think about one thing at a time. We can dash about the kitchen preparing breakfast and school lunches, wiping up spills, writing notes and finding lost clothing, but it all happens on ‘automatic’; we cannot focus clearly on any one of those things.

To focus on what we are doing, to be mindful, brings a new light and energy to any activity. To excel, to harvest our bountiful creativity, we need to be engaged, present, allowing the universe to flow through us fully in the moment. So be clear about what you are doing, what you thinking about, be focussed, be with it, and enjoy the flow!

When I am taking a yoga class I an usually fully absorbed in each moment, word, action, observation, but every now and then my mind slips into a different mode, thinking about how to help a student, or remembering what I had planned next, and oh no! I have lost the moment. Laughter helps me to recover, and we all learn again that one thing at a time is just right, focus and flow for excellence, for efficiency, for creativity. Those are the times you hear yourself speak something that has never consciously occurred to you, wisdom arising unexpectedly from the divine matrix. Chess players, golfers, artists, writers, inventors are all familiar with “being in the flow”, where time passes without their awareness, and what is being brought forth is all that matters.

Flow is the mental state in which a person in an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and success in the process of the activity. Psychologist  Mihály Csíkszentmihályi,  who coined the term, says the hallmark of flow is a feeling of spontaneous joy, even rapture, while performing a task although flow is also described as a deep focus on nothing but the activity.

Josh Waitzkin wrote about how he learned to the let the universe flow through him in a unique and powerful way while he practised his martial arts or played chess. First he practised all the techniques, but then he was able to let go, transcending technique and allowing “an intelligent not-knowing” to set him free to respond in the moment. It involves deep presence, a relaxation of the conscious mind that allows the unconscious flow without being too blissed out.

So dont worry about getting everything done …. concentrate on one thing at a time … one job, one conversation … and get into the flow!

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2 thoughts on “One at a Time

  1. I like this! We are focused on FLOW now in our Poolates class. Concentration came before flow. Brother Lawrence had it right in Practicing the Presence. When I’m washing the dishes, I AM washing the dishes!

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