18 December 2014
Modern technology has created a culture where we perform more than one task at a time. This can be seen to benefit us but yet, it has changed the way we function.
It is typical for us to have multiple distractions that prevent us from focusing on one particular thing. For instance, at home you may prepare dinner, answer a text message and have the News playing in the background. Or at work, you may write an email, eat lunch and talk to a colleague.
This modern way of life has trained our brain to “multi-task”. The ability to multi-task might appear to be saving us time but neurologists have found that it can lead to a shorter attention span, cause stress and actually make us less efficient.
Has your mind started wandering yet? Have you been distracted by a phone message or email?
According to Rasmus Hougaard, in 2009 we could pay attention for an average of 13 seconds. In 2013 it was eight seconds; a goldfish can focus for nine.
So what can be done?
Neuroscience studies reveal that the key curbing this behaviour is learning the skill of mindfulness. Mindfulness involves paying attention to your surroundings, focusing on the present, the here, the now. Most importantly it involves setting aside your worries, emotions and any other thoughts that distract your mind from the current moment.
Jon Kabat-Zinn, Professor of Medicine Emeritus and mindfulness expert, defines mindfulness as “paying attention on purpose in particular way in the present moment with curiosity, without judgement.”
How can you become more mindful?
For staff, students and the wider community there are multiple resources that can assist you on your journey to becoming more mindful.
Mindfulness in Everyday Life, Black Dog Institute – a list of daily activities that can assist you with practicing mindfulness
The Smiling Mind – a web and app-based program designed to assist you with practicing mindfulness
What is mindfulness? – a 5 minute Youtube video from mindfulness expert Jon Kabat-Zinn
Being mindful on campus
For our students, Student Life and Learning holds Mindfulness sessions during the semester to help relieve stress and improve wellbeing. For our staff, we can help you learn the basics of mindfulness through the Staff Development calendar and HSW Blitz. We also hold Stretch and Move sessions that end with mindfulness techniques. Contact us for a HSW Blitz or sign up through the Staff Development.