While sorting through papers this week, I was listening to the radio, as I often do. Recalling this particular situation reminds me that doing more than one thing at a time can improve efficiency(maybe), but we can’t have our full attention on any one thing.
The discussion on the radio was about a new study recently published on memory as people age. I didn’t catch details about the study, nor the researcher, because I didn’t fully devote my attention to what was being said. What triggered my stopping to bring full attention to the discussion was this: we can keep our memory stronger by learning something brand new. Yes, it can be helpful to continue with crossword puzzles, Sudoku, chess, etc., but even better to challenge ourselves to something we know nothing about. Sounds like good advice for adults of any age, doesn’t it?
This point came alive in my new tai chi class series this week. In this second week (so just two hours of class), a student said she couldn’t remember anything we had done the first week.
“That’s not unusual,” I said. “The movements you are learning are not familiar. With repetition and time, your mind and body will start to remember. We’re learning patience.”
I added,”That’s the good and bad news about tai chi. The good news is that the movements are not familiar so everybody is in the same boat and doesn’t know anything. The bad news in our culture is we want to ‘get it’ now. We are impatient.”
Good lessons. Learn something brand new to stimulate our brains and keep our memories strong. The brand new something may and will take time. Learning to be patient and kind to ourselves takes time. Tai Chi helps us do both.