multitask mind

Multitasking involves performing multiple tasks simultaneously. Many individuals believe that multitasking is a display of intelligence and should be practised for maintaining brain health. but can your mind really multitask?


The truth is that our brains are not built to handle multiple tasks simultaneously. 


We are focused on doing one thing at a time and giving it our complete attention. Our brains rapidly switch between various tasks when we engage in multitasking. The ever-shifting aspects of life stimulate our mental faculties, leading to exhaustion and reducing the efficiency of the brain. It becomes challenging for us to focus on a single task, even when we’re not juggling multiple tasks.


Though it may seem that the mind is capable of doing many things at a time, it cannot. Instead the mind can switch tasks quickly and that happens one after the other.


Ayurveda’s take on multitasking


Kudos to modern science for discovering this after the 1900s, but total respect to Ayurveda and Indian philosophy to have spoken some 5000 years ago!


Ayurveda says that the mind has a quality know as “ekatwam” or oneness. The mind is only one. The mind can do only one job at a time. Think of seeing food in front of you. You see, hear, smell and taste the food. You feel the mind is into all of these thoughts at the same time. It is not. Even if we feel the mind is invested in multiple things at a time it isn’t. 


Ayurveda quotes an interesting maxim for this – ‘Utpala satadala suchivedha nyayam.’


When a needle is pierced quickly through a hundred lotus petals arranged one over the other, it may seem the needle pieces all 100 petals simultaneously, but in reality, it makes piercing one after the other. The mind is like the needle here. Impressions happen one after the other.


So stop believing that your mind can multitask. Instead of doing many different things at a time, like having a coffee while typing on a laptop or talking on the phone to the boss, try to do one task at a time so that all your attention goes into one task, which means increased productivity!


Health effects of multitasking


Multitasking can lead to increased stress and elevated blood pressure and heart rate. It can lead to feelings of depression and anxiety. If your high blood pressure persists over time, it can have adverse effects on your brain, increasing the likelihood of cognitive problems.


According to Ayurveda, multitasking upsets Vata, the element that controls flow and movement. Our attention is continuously being disrupted when we don’t let our minds focus on one activity at a time. Among other symptoms, anxiety, disarray, overstimulation, and trouble sleeping are signs that Vata is out of balance. Ayurveda places a strong emphasis on giving crucial chores your whole, focused attention—yes, even eating. Ayurveda holds that we cannot perform two attentive actions at once. For example, we cannot drive and chat on the phone at the same time since doing so puts us at risk of an accident because both tasks require our mental focus.

So, yes, your mind can multitask. But it is not fit for your mental health!

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Consult with Dr. Rekha Radhamony