An Adventure In Mindlessness
Mindfulness is a practice that is an important component of achieving and maintaining well-being. You may have heard definitions such as paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally from Jon Kabat Zinn. Or, keeping your attention alive in the present moment from Thich Nhat Hanh. Harvard University professor Ellen Langer, who has studied mindfulness for over 35 years, suggests that being mindful is as simple as noticing new things. She says that when we notice new things. we become engaged which keeps us in the present. It can open us to new perspectives.
Now let’s talk about mindlessness. I’m not referring to being an airhead or of diminished capacity. It is more the state of being on automatic pilot or reacting based on beliefs or assumptions. When we function on automatic pilot we are not there. And, as Langer says, when we are not there we are not there to know we are not there. This is from a blog I wrote a couple of years ago, but after what I did the other night, it seemed worth revisiting.
Have you ever poured cream into the sugar bowl instead of the coffee cup? Did you ever grab a tube of medicinal ointment thinking it was toothpaste? Or maybe you’ve gotten all dressed up to go to a special event finding out when you arrived it was the wrong date? Many of you may have experienced being on social media on your smart phone, then suddenly needing to make a phone call. You start looking all around for the phone. I think we’ve all experienced such blunders over the years. This leads to my most recent one which at least led to a lot of laughs. Here’s what happened.
I was on a hand-held phone with a friend as I was getting ready to turn in for the night. I often like to watch TV for a few minutes before actually going to sleep. I left the remote somewhere on the bed. Being vision impaired is my excuse for not knowing exactly where the remote was. While my friend was talking, I inadvertently dropped the phone while feeling around for the remote. Being in a totally mindless state, I picked up the remote and started talking into it as if it was the phone. For a few seconds I didn’t understand why my friend was not responding. She continued talking and I suddenly came out of my stupor realizing the phone was on the bed and it was not what I was talking into. Good grief! I must say I still chuckle every time I think about it.
Although it is still amusing, it also emphasizes the importance of being fully present in our lives. Most of the time these gaffs are without consequence. Yet, there are several instances of more serious results of not paying attention. Getting off automatic pilot, staying engaged, staying in the moment benefits us in every aspect of our lives. That being said, I am going to take the remote off the charger and call a friend.
Comments are welcomed.