“If I have ever made any valuable discoveries, it has been owing more to patient attention, than to any other talent.”
— Isaac Newton
Are you reading this article while eating a snack while listening to music while watching a video while texting your friend?
I have to tell you something. Sorry, you can’t truly multitask. Of course, you can try, but doing more than one thing at a time will degrade your performance. Most likely you are just switching quickly between tasks rather than doing them simultaneously. However, this costs mental energy and lowers efficacy. Research shows that you end up doubling the time you need as well as doubling the mistakes you make.
Ok, there are exceptions. But only 2% of the population is an amazing “supertasker” who actually does better with more tasks. Too bad their unique neural activation patterns during multitasking is genetic.
So what about the rest of us? Even though you may believe otherwise, we cannot even really improve multitasking with training unless the activities are simple and predictable. This is not true when they are complex and unpredictable.
Nonetheless, mere mortals can train to be better at “unitasking”. As humans, that is one of our greatest gifts: to sustain singular focus. Unfortunately, transient attention spans have shrunk from 12 seconds in 2000 to 8 seconds in 2013. Supposedly, that is less than a goldfish. It’s a surprise we can get anything accomplished.
Come on, we can do better than that! Enter WingChun attention training.
When we practice WingChun, we train one thing at a time. In fact, our first Form is named 小念頭 which translates to “Small Intention”. By small, we refer to quantity and quality. Small quantity means one thing at a time. Small quality means focused concentration. And you have to do this for up to 20 minutes at a time.
Then we train Applications. Those are simulated physical conflict situations. Our classes are very safe but our system activates and refines your primal survival instinct of self-preservation. You are going to pay attention when a fist is rapidly hurtling towards you! Getting distracted will have an immediate consequence.
It’s not just about failing to defend an attack, your brain reacts differently too. If you learn while distracted your striatum, which learns new skills, is active. If you learn while focused your hippocampus, which stores and retrieves information, is active. The kind of rapid skimming and switching we are used to with modern technology has no depth or duration. In the long-term, your brain rewires from being able to deeply focus on one thing to scattering attention among multiple points.
Here’s a simple way to think of it. If you do one thing at a time, you can give it 100% of your attention. Doing two things simultaneously means you can only give each 50% of your attention. For four things, that’s only 25% attention each.
In WingChun we deliberately infuse our full mental power to coordinate every nerve, muscle and bone, each cell, tissue and organ in our body as one integrated moment of action. That is human unitasking at its best. Then we continually repeat the process make ourselves better.
This method is exactly what teach at my WingChun Classes, Workshops and Events.