There is so much buzz about mindfulness. For sure, being mindful can help someone become more aware and grow in the journey of life. However, there is considerably less talk about being mindless, a state which has the potential to be as beneficial, if not more.
The Oxford dictionary describes mindfulness as a mental state. According to their definition, one can become mindful if one concentrates on the present moment and accept thoughts and feelings that come into them.
Another popular interpretation entails observing the content of one’s mind without judging it. In either case, it is described as a technique or exercise one can do to become more aware of one’s thought process.
Thoughts: The focus point of mindfulness
The essential element in the definition of mindfulness is that the focus is on the mind and its content. In other words, the focus is not exactly on the moment but on the mind and what’s happening inside it right now.
For example, you may be sitting under a tree and practicing mindfulness. You happen to be in love with somebody, and naturally, your thoughts are about this love affair. Since you practice mindfulness, you are aware of those thoughts, but you are not aware of what is happening around you at the moment.
For example, you may be unaware of the tree you are sitting under or the earth you are standing on. So when you practice mindfulness, your focus is not on the moment but on what is going on in your mind right now.
Moment: the focus point of mindlessness
That is where you can find the main difference between mindfulness and mindlessness. When you practice mindlessness, your focus is on the moment and everything other than the content of your mind.
In the example above, if you practice mindlessness, you are not paying attention to your thoughts about the person you are in love with. You let these thoughts happen while you focus on the moment. That does not mean that the thoughts and feelings are not there.
It is just that you ignore them. At the same time, you do not mess with your thoughts. You do not even try to stop them. You let them happen just like you let your heartbeat.
Meditation and mindlessness
Many complain that they cannot meditate because their minds do not let them. That is probably either an excuse or a sign they did not fully follow the instructions. During meditation practices, you may be discouraged from thinking. That means you are not concerned about your thoughts.
Thoughts will keep coming. You do not try to stop them. You just let them happen like the activity of your heart, kidneys, and any other part of the body. Not everything in our kidneys is clean, and the same may apply to our brains.
The kidneys will do their things; the liver will do its own; the brain will do its own. Your task is to focus on the process. And that is all. You follow the directions and guidelines of the meditation technique you chose to practice.
On a final note, mindlessness does not mean unconsciousness. When you are unconscious, you probably do not think anything. But it is not the same. Not thinking anything and practicing mindlessness are two different things. When you are mindless, you may or may not think. The main characteristic is that you don’t mess with your thoughts.
- When you practice mindfulness, your focus is not on the moment but on what is happening now in your mind.
- When you practice mindlessness, your focus is on the moment and everything other than the content of your mind.
- When meditating, thoughts will keep coming. You do not try to stop them. You just let them happen like you let your heartbeat.