mindless vs mindful

As I continue this practice of daily mediatation, which really is a daily training of one’s mind toward mindful awareness in all of life (i.e. not a religious ritual), I have become aware of how much of my daily actions are best described as mindless,  rather than mindful.  

In these last 7 months I have come to realize how many things I do daily, to which no conscious or present thought is applied.  One of the biggies is driving.  I go on autopilot a lot.  What I am discovering is just how habitual and rote my daily living is. 

Before I went on vacation recently, I was reading a piece on mindfulness and the author suggested that one attempt to be completely present through out the day.  The means of pulling one’s self fully into the present was to use both hands to accomplish whatever task was being attempted,  i.e. use both hands to drink from a cup, or when driving etc.  Through out my vacation I tried that and continue to try but moments after I begin, I find myself doing the one handed unthoughtful mode again.  It can be a frustrating experience. 

Similarly, in attempting to focus one’s mind on one thing during meditation, what is immediately discovered is that the mind is all over the place following one discursive thought after another.  Honestly this frustrated me greatly until I read a book by Matthieu Ricard entitled “Why Meditate”.  Ricard encourages the reader to not be frustrated because our minds have not started doing this only when we meditate, but our minds have always been this unproductive and roving, we just weren’t aware of it.  Through meditation I am becoming aware of patterns of mind that have persisted for 46 years, changing those patterns is not going to come quickly.  But, it is possible to change our minds and to become more present and aware of the way things really are, i.e. more mindful.  The way to work toward transforming my mind is daily meditation.

I would encourage you (the reader of this post) to try being present and thoughtful about every action in a day, or try the two handed approach to bringing presence of mind into your activities…I bet you will discover how much of your day is without thought or awareness.