One of the 21st Century malaise – Do You Know What It Is?

Tantek Multitasking
Tantek Multitasking (Photo credit: Thomas Hawk)

There are many things that are affecting our life styles in this 21st Century.  Life is made easy in many ways through technological advancements.  We are able to connect with each other in many different ways across the continents, instantaneously and many of us have begun to love that instant socialising and communication whilst trying to keep up with a multitude of activities – ‘at the same time’.

We ‘Multi-task’.

This advances in technology, this need to be connected all the time and this urgency to stay on top of everything we have to do – is it taking its toll?

Are we half dabbling in a dozen activities whilst the mind is constantly racing to keep up?  Our bodies are getting tired and sick  in keeping up with the mind too.

Multi-tasking — we worship that and take pride in it.  I am able to hold a conversation on the phone and Face Book simultaneously with people thousands of miles away from me and also check my emails and browse for what I will be cooking tonight whilst doodling with one hand.  My hands, ears, eyes and mouth all are engaged in doing different things at the same time.

Now that is something to marvel about, no doubt and it may be useful – but what is the price we are paying in doing that?  I can speak for myself, others experience might be different.  In multi-tasking to that extent, my productivity snow dived and my anxiety heightened.

New equation:  MT = <P >A

Result – constant scurrying from multiple unfinished tasks and suffering relationships as active listening has taken back stage.  I have become BUSY

Is it possible for us to attend to one task at a time without the pull and push of the mind?  If so how do we go about it?

Right now I have stumbled to write the next sentence and my mind quickly jumped to rescue me by trying to convince me that I can browse for the meaning of a word or check my email which I only did – like 10 minutes ago before I started writing.

Does it sound familiar to you?

So how do we not multi task?  There are  number of tricks and tips proposed on how to keep away from all of these and concentrate.  There is the word – “Concentrate”, the key to anything worthy of accomplishment.

Sanskrit language uses a word to describe Concentration, but it is more than Concentration.  EKAGRATA (EK – A – GRA – TA) meaning “One-Pointed Attention”, concentrating and paying complete undivided attention to one thing at a time.

Actually that word is used in the context of the ultimate goal of a human life which is ‘attaining liberation’.  Lord Krishna says to Arjuna in the battlefield delivering his ultimate song – The Bhagavad Gita, that whosoever puts their ‘one pointed attention’ on God and carry out their tasks shall attain liberation.

Whilst that is the ultimate goal of human life, to me it translates incrementally.

Liberation for me right now is having an uncluttered mind, a mind that is calm and peaceful and not jumping from tree to tree like a  mad monkey.

That is possible if I put all my attention on the task at hand and ignore the push and pull and the urges of the mind that makes something else look more attractive than what I am currently doing.

Easy said isn’t it?  Well, we got to learn to trick the trickster with its own tricks, don’t we?

How do we do it?  How do we stay on one task at a time until completion, completely focused and 100% attentive to it alone.

I came across this article on Zenhabits called “A primer of full screen living”.  I encourage you to read the article.  It makes sense and actually gives a handle on how to…. live doing one task at a time

I have been using that in the last week and actually accomplished more and feel less pulled and stressed and worried.

Multi-tasking may work but it works at a price – a heavy price of our health.  80% of diseases have their origin in the mind says Sai Baba.  It makes sense to me. If multi-tasking is actually making my life more busy and worrisome and if worry is the root cause of many diseases, it makes sense to not do that.

I actually found that ‘One-Pointed Attention’ to the task at hand brings peace and satisfaction.

Try it.

Live one full screen at a time because you can convince your mind quite easily that after this screen fills, the next screen can appear and you go from one completed task to another smoothly without the temptation of attending to several open screens at the same time.

Believe me, ‘One Pointed Attention’  makes you feel happy, peaceful and content.

As much as we like to believe we are designed to multi-task, we are not.

So, Ekagrata is my new mantra.

Will it be yours too? Would love to know what you think of this…Drop a line in

Until next time

With Love and Respect

Padma Ayyagari