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DON'T THINK AND DRIVE

The Austrian Oak, Arnold Schwarzenegger, was once asked how he accomplished so much. While earning a business degree, he ran a successful roofing business, successfully brokered numerous investment deals, made it as a Hollywood movie star and strung together more Mr. Olympias than had ever been seen in the history of bodybuilding. All while spending three hours a day, six days a week, training in the gym. How do you have the time? his admirers asked. His answer: "You really think when I'm doing barbell wrist curls, I am only doing barbell wrist curls? I am thinking about how to make my next millions dollars."

In a word Arnold was making a name for multitasking. Focusing on more than one thing at once. It is true that the Oak had a flare for the dramatic, and the hyperbolic, and in this case plain untruth.

Because it is a scientifically proven fact that the mind can only concentrate on one thing at a time. The awareness cannot be divided. If you do two things at once, say watch TV while reading, or read while eating, or text while driving, or drive while sexing, you aren't really doing both simultaneously. It only appears that way. Your attention is jumping from one task to the next. (And usually you do neither very well.) So while Arnold may have been planning his next investment deal in between lifts, while muscle building he was most assuredly focusing on the pump. That's how he got so big and strong.

And that's why such an emphasis has been placed on stilling the mind. The Bible says: "Be still and know that I am God." Buddha's words about the enlightened one are: "His thoughts are still. His words are still. His work is stillness. He sees his freedom and is free." This is just a sample of East meets West. Other examples from all religions and philosophies abound. Because a quiet mind can be directed wherever the attention is necessary.

Ever notice how you can be so immersed in a movie that you fail to feel the fly on your forehead, or so preoccupied with a thought that you no longer hear the clock ticking overhead? And then you hear the sound of the second hand and you forget what it is you were thinking or supposed to have been doing while you were thinking. A mind bombarded by anxieties and worries and guilts is so wrapped up in itself that life goes by unnoticed and unexperienced. Which can be okay sometimes if you are the absent-minded professor type, Einstein working on his ground breaking theories while, say, peeing in the hamper. But if you are average Joe or Jane and so preoccupied with your mental ramblings that you fail to notice the stoplight ahead has turned red, then things could get nasty real quick.

Try an experiment. Sit in your room and follow your awareness wherever it leads. I did this just this morning. First I noticed the sound the heater made coming from the other side of the room. Then I was aware of a slight ache in my tooth, followed by a rumble in my stomach, then the thought that I should write a post about shifting awareness. Finally, direct your awareness, first to your breathing, then to awareness itself. Simply sit and be. A word of advice: It is best to begin your practice in the solitude of your room and not, say, at the supermarket, where your senses can easily be led astray. Because every time I go shopping I fall madly in love with at least three cuties before I'm even through the produce section. Especially if one gives me attention, and has pretty blue eyes and a nice smile, and speaks Spanish with a Castilian accent, like the flavor of yesterday. If you're listening, I dreamed of you last night. It could be so much better in real life, so call me maybe? Because love at first sight is highly overrated, or grossly underestimated, as the case may be.

The point of the timeless practice of meditation is to go out of time. Still the awareness, fix the mind on itself, so that no thoughts lead you hither or thither, and you are even unconscious of physical sensations. It is like you are unconscious, asleep, and yet totally present. In fact you can be said to never be more alive. This is conscious immortality. This is what is meant to truly live. Give it a try.

And when you next have sex, just fuck. Leave the thoughts for later, like when you're texting your friends about it. And never think and drive. More lives are lost that way each day than drinking takes in decades. And that's no hyperbole.


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