Me singing: “Mary had a little lamb, little lamb…”
Internal thought process: “Geez, how many verses does this song have?” “I’m supposed to be working right now! You’re supposed to be sleeping!”
I feel myself getting frustrated and irritable. I had big plans for nap time today, but my daughter is sick and falling asleep with a stuffy nose and cough is challenging. After my third trip back to her room, I had the bright idea that I would bring my phone and sit on the floor, out of her view, and sing her favorite song. I reasoned that I could get a few things accomplished while I sang.
However, neuroscientist, Earl Miller, a professor at MIT, says for the most part, we can’t focus on more than one thing at the same time. What we are really doing is switching our attention with amazing speed. This gives the impression that we are paying attention to things simultaneously, when, in reality, we are rapidly switching our attention back and forth. The part of the brain responsible for this amazing ability is our executive system (more on this in a future blog post).
Turns out, its true, we really don’t multitask as well as we think. After a couple of verses had words like “coffee” and “attention” dropped in, I gave up. What was I doing anyway, my baby needed me and my mind was somewhere else.
Such a powerful reminder to be present and to let go of our idea of how something is supposed to go, which, by the way, is a surefire way to increase suffering.