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.


3 thoughts on “mindless vs mindful

  1. How can anything you do be mindless? To be mindless would be to devoid yourself completely of will, and without will there is no action.

  2. To be mindful, as I understand it, is to be fully aware and present, my mind where my body is. My point is that often I find myself running on auto pilot, e.g. driving somewhere, but my mind is off somewhere else thinking about other things. I usually discover this when I find myself going to some place other that where I initially was planning to go. My point is that there are elements of this auto functioning, where mind and body are not in the same place. This is not mindfulness as I understand it, and is precisely why I meditate, which is to train my mind to be more presently aware.

  3. Then I guess the question would be is it possible for your body to function without your mind being fully engaged. If you say it can, then that would seem to me a great argument in defense of some awful crime. I doubt a thinking person would buy into that though. The basic assumption here is that it takes the full capacity of the mind to function your body. What I’m saying is, you are fully engaged with your mind and body, but your mind can have a thought life above and beyond what it takes to control your body. To limit it to the function of your body would be to downgrade and diminish its abilities. It would seem to me you would want to foster the growth of your mind above and beyond the control of your body.

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