We are surrounded by reminders to live in the 'now', to dwell in the present, and we instinctively feel that this is right and true, but it is hard. We live in a world that encourages us to feel dissatisfied with what we have and what we are, that encourages us to lay blame on others for what happens to us, and to keep speeding along, multitasking at all times.
Stop. Breathe. Look around.
I know that living at this speed encourages disconnect and zoning out. One of my bad habits is to watch recorded tv shows while I'm doing something else. I record things, so that I can make deliberate choices and have control over my viewing, rather than being at the mercy of the programmers. I know that I multitask in this way because there is so much that I want to do that I don't want to waste time, but this way I don't follow the story well, and depending on the task I'm engaged in, that suffers too. If it was worth recording, it's worth watching. One or the other. If I don't have time to watch it, there is no need. On the other hand if watching a favourite show for 45 minutes gives me some happy downtime, I should embrace that.
A friend and I frequently check in with how we are doing with mindful listening. A lot of our time together is spent hanging out. In our case that often means parallel activity, threaded through with conversation. So far so good, in fact that often the best way to have a good conversation with a teenager or a man, the experts tell us. However, it is hard to hear your friend confessing her doubts about her career path, if you are watching tv, checking email and IMing two friends while you talk to her. Or looking at your fringe (bangs for the North American crowd) and quietly zoning out during the conversation. Which happened. And that time, it was her, not me. That time.
My husband and I are learning about my listening powers. He needs to remember that if he can hear me typing, he shouldn't dive straight in with the big stuff, he should get my attention first. I need to remember that if I can hear him speaking to me, I should stop typing!
I aim to watch for that zoning out feeling as a sign. What needs to change? Am I trying to do too much at once? Am I pressed for time and fretting about the next thing? Or do I just need to take a breath and bring myself back to the moment at hand?
See more prompts and other people's take on them at The Mindfulist.