Neologisms: ‘newly coined words or phrases frequently used by members of society, yet still in the process of entering common use in mainstream language.’
NEOLOGISM NUMBER TWO –
Mashing is a term frequently used by Jacqui Lewis of The Broad Place meditation school (learn more about her in a previous year’s interview we published here) that speaks of modern day multi-tasking. Put simply, it is when you are doing multiple things at once.
In Jac’s words, “mashing is when you text while driving while trying to sip your latte from a keep cup – all at the same time. It’s when you watch Netflix and scroll on your phone simultaneously, or eat dinner while checking emails, or type on your computer while talking on the phone to a friend.”
We all do it. Simply because we believe that engaging in a system of mashing will help us reach our desired outcome faster, only to find there are more tasks to be done once we get there. The message we’ve been fed for decades is work harder, get smarter. Trouble is, this process of rushing and packing multiple tasks into one single moment often forfeits a deepened experience of learning, memory building and productivity. Each time we divide our attention, we fracture our ability to know that moment intimately, leaving many experiences half-baked when we really had the tools to make something brilliant. Sometimes it looks like leaving a gathering feeling a little unseen, having just skimmed the surface of what was really being said because we showed up with an agenda, time limit, or check list. Real communication does not operate by run sheets – it is messy and spontaneous, and thus requires full presence and curiosity.
Despite what our feelings may tell us, when our mind is in a million pieces none of our daily happenings have the chance to become fully resolute.
Neuroscientist Dr Caroline Leaf busts a lot of brain myths in her books and on her podcasts. And what she has to say about mashing is enough to warrant a collective sigh of relief as we all ease up on the pushing and let some of that lovely white space re-enter the pages of our haphazardly full diary. She says “anything that is disorganised doesn’t create clear patterns in the brain.” As we learnt in our neuroplasticity blog post two weeks ago, every thought we think literally builds matter in our brain, and from there we have the choice to wire either a positive or negative result. Dr Leaf says that if information enters the brain in a disorganised way it remains disconnected, making it much harder to recall that specific information when we decide we actually need it. (Think running through the all-important check list of things you must bring with you somewhere, only to get in the car and realise you’ve left your car keys on the bench.)
In our brain’s attempt to regulate the onslaught of issues we are trying to tackle in moments of hyper busyness memory function is often impaired. Working on creating systems that allow us to devote more focus to understanding the topic at hand will build connections based off personal meaning. This technique makes tracing our thinking more efficient, and also makes the ‘get smarter’ part of that modern day slogan more of a graspable reality.
(Joo Youn Paek’s pillowig is an impressive mashing facilitator – ‘a hand-made wearable pillow that comforts people during the tired moments in daily life!’)
Doing two things that require deliberate cognitive input at once is not actually possible, says Caroline. In fact, research shows that people who boast the ability to do multiple things at once actually show a drop in intelligence. When we engage in another task without having finished a particular starting one we begin the mashing and put unnecessary strain on our brain.
Resolving to decide what you are going to focus your attention on in a given moment is a much kinder approach. One your brain will not only thank you for now, but reward you in smarts for going forward.
So, what can this week’s neologism offer us: Just because you’re doing a lot more doesn’t mean you’re getting a lot more done!