We live in a distracted state that’s filled with interruptions. We begin our days with determination. There are to-do lists to scratch off, and action items to be delivered. But our mind has, sorry for the pun, a mind of it’s own. Why are we so distracted, and so unhappy? Why can’t we get much done with this mind of ours? Why do the days end just as they had begun, with a lot of promise but not much by way of accomplishment?
There’s a story about the legendary Mullah Nasruddin, who was seen one morning riding on his donkey through the town square several times. The first time he passed, one of his friends asked him where he was going. Mullah looked at his friend, then looked perplexed at his donkey, then looked at the road ahead, and after a long pause followed by a deep sigh, answered, “I think I’ll go to the clothes-washer, I have clothes to pick in the morning”. The second time, no clothes on hand, it was a quicker “I’m just headed to the courts, there may be a case waiting for me”. The third time, when he returns only a few moments later, he declares aloud before anyone could ask, “I’m headed to the coffeeshop. It’s time for my morning cup”. This coming and going continued a few more times, puzzling the locals and continuing to embarrass Nasruddin.
After this had gone on for a while, the Mullah finally confesses to the real reason why he’s pacing the town square. “I have no idea where I am going anymore, but I was hoping my donkey has the plans worked out. Sadly, he seems to be awfully unsure of himself today”.
We meditate to get back into the saddle. We want to reach a state of relaxed-alertness, where our attention is poised to go where we want it to go, and our body, breath and mind are relaxed enough to respond to the world outside. Then, we can do what we want to do with our time and attention, instead of letting it wander meaninglessly.
As professionals, we are pulled into many directions. There are fires to fight, reviews to participate in, presentations to make, and emails that want our attention. We know that we can’t get everything done at the same time, and flailing about from one urgency to another always leads us to failure. We know this already, but we continue our patterns of behavior because it doesn’t seem there is an alternative to this madness.
But there is an alternative to the madness. If we can learn to “untrain” our mind from this pattern to distracted thought, we can actually go deep into the task we consider right for that moment and finish it off before moving to the next one. This is why we should meditate, because that’s what the program is all about.
There are many other reasons why you may want to meditate. Whatever your reason, you should consider weaving meditation into your professional lifestyle.