We live in a multitasking society. We are proud of our ability to perform a multitude of mental tasks simultaneously. We carry out routine chores while we ‘think’ about other things. We play back scenes from the past. We worry about what is to come. We make plans and have fantasies about how the plans will play out. We rehearse important future events and then wonder what went wrong when what we rehearsed turns out to be ineffective. We unconsciously conduct internal conversations that often have conflicting values, then wonder why we feel stressed and overwhelmed. Each one of these mental activities consumes a portion of our energy and attention. The older we get the more we have to multitask about and the less attention we pay to what is occurring in the one place and time where life is actually occurring, Here/Now.
I recently asked a client where she had the majority of her attention. She gave me a long list of ‘important’ concerns: she was: worried about her children; having discrimination in the workplace; concerned about how this would effect her pregnancy; she wanted to quit and find work elsewhere but ‘knew’ that no one would hire a pregnant woman and give her maternity leave; she feared not being able to maintain her family. All legitimate concerns. Each one of these ‘concerns’ held a fragment of her consciousness outside the present moment. She said she was so stressed out she would get overwhelmed by the slightest challenge. I asked her what percentage of her attention was Here/Now.
“Hardly any of it” She sighed.
Her presenting issues were depression, anxiety and panic attacks. It does not take much of an intuitive leap to see the connection between her presenting symptoms and how she was operating her mind.