We hear it all the time these days – it is so helpful to be mindful! As a yoga teacher and psychotherapist I practically promote mindfulness in my sleep. As I have learned, however, from my own experience AND from the research of top neuroscientists in the field, there there is intense value to be had from the practice of mindlessness. Hooray!
What do I mean by mindlessness? Of course, I’m not talking about carelessness or any behavior that hurts others. I’m talking about letting your mind GO, and there are many ways to do so in a way that will benefit your life and the experience of those around you.
Here are five healthy ways you can start being mindless today!
1. Take some time to LET YOUR MIND DO WHAT IT WANTS.
Like an emotion that is trying to be expressed, if you try to form your mind into one certain way, it can happen that the repressed patterns only get louder (also why diets fail – don’t think about cheese!). Earlier this week I sat down into meditation, my morning ‘mindfulness’ practice, and thought to myself, “Okay mind, have at it! Wander wherever you will wander, and I will watch.” What happened? I couldn’t think of anything. Not my relationship, not my business, not my health, my hopes, dreams, my fears, not even what to have for breakfast. My mind just went silent. How ironic! All this time trying to still the mind and all we have to do sometimes is call it’s bluff. Reverse psychology at its finest;)
2. Take the mental weight out of necessary action.
How many times do you let some household chore, email, phone call, or item of work build up to the point that the mere thought of doing it makes you want to fall asleep? For me there is something every day that I would prefer to avoid, skip, or push until later. Mindlessness has your solution – stop thinking about it and just do it (no kickbacks from Nike here, I promise;). Don’t even let your mind step in the way, just wash the dish, send a short email reply, write a crappy report, and put as little thought into the act as possible. Preposterous, I know, but chances are your dish is now clean, your email question has been responded to, and your crappy report isn’t all that crappy (if nothing else you’ve got a draft to work with). Mantra for perfectionists: Done is better than perfect! Also, in most cases, better than carrying the mental weight and having another thing to be mindful about.
3. AUTOMATE YOUR MIND.
That sounds scary! No, I don’t want you to join a cult. This one takes some effort to start but is immensely rewarding in the long run. It’s about creating a mental groove that gets so strong its inertia feeds itself. Yup, I’m talking about building a habit. Habits can be wonderful, when they work for us. If you have a habit of doing something, by definition you can do it without thinking! So, it may take a little mindfulness to make the shift, but can you make your goal MINDLESSLY head to the gym after work? Or, without even thinking about it, giving a complement to a stranger? If your goal is mindlessness, you reach a state of maintenance and ease with these helpful habits. So get to it! Pick something healthy and do it enough so that it becomes totally automated. Thanks, mind!
4. DO NOTHING.
As I mentioned earlier, mindlessness is also promoted by Dr. Dan Siegel, psychiatrist and neuroscientist at (Go Bruins) UCLA Medical Center in Westwood, CA. In his suggested daily brain habits he recommends a little mindlessness every day, meaning that your give yourself the time to drift, to space out, to putt around the house. His research indicated that this is actually GOOD for your brain’s health and will help you to be able to do the other things that are also important. (Check out my earlier post for his other six recommended daily brain habits– you’ll like them too).
5. Be Heartful.
Lots of mind vs. heart discussions these days. You can always trade mindfulness for heartfulness. Mind less, heart more. You get it.
So there you have it, MINDLESSNESS IS GOOD FOR YOU. :D:D Of course, defining the mind and its many ways of being is a complex discussion, and there are many ways (of course) that mindfulness benefits folks. But whenever you’ve had a full day of attention, awareness, effort, patience and focus, take solace in knowing that it is GOOD for you to let it all go, and let your mind wander… however you choose to do so.
Much heartful love,