The Art of Mindlessness

Perhaps one of your 2018 resolutions is to try some meditation. You’ve been reading about the benefits of meditation and now that it’s gotten scientific validation and has been westernized, you’re ready to see if you could actually quiet that incessant chatter in your head.

Before you embark on apps like Headspace or Calm and YouTube videos that walk you through a mindfulness experience consider the possibility that you already create a peaceful state of mind through mindlessness.

Mindlessness is an underappreciated skill whereby you engage in some activity that absorbs your thinking and allows you act freely and without conscious thought. We almost always experience it in the car when we drive on an open road and forget about everything except the feel of the road and scenery before us.

When we lived in our big suburban home, our Saturday morning ritual of working in the yard gave us the chance to forget all our problems and just experience the simple pleasure of getting dirt under our fingernails.

While mindlessness leads to a relaxation of our thinking, one of the findings of researchers is that mindlessness may open creative ideas in our mind. Without the sharp focus on nothingness that is a hallmark of mindfulness, mindlessness may open up new neural pathways to insights and creativity.

Now you know that I fully endorse a mindfulness practice for building resilience and I also want to reinforce to you that our mind is already doing things to help us build our capacity for being successful in the face of challenges, so go ahead and let your head wander.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2018


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