Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Mindfulness vs. Mindlessness

Mindlessness; most of us know what this is. Driving from point A to point B and forgetting how you got there. Reading several pages of a book only to realize you have no recollection of what you’ve read. Planning your grocery list, laundry details or dinner menu when your mind should be otherwise occupied… We’ve all been there. In extreme cases, mindlessness gets the label of A.D.D and medication gets thrown at it. There are ways to control mindlessness without drugs (not to discount medication whatsoever).

Your brain is a muscle, using different parts of your brain regular helps you exercise that muscle. Think of the following exercise as push-ups for the part of your brain that tends to wander around on its own:

Take an object, preferably one of interest to you. A wrapped candy for example. Now look at it. Really look at. Take a few minutes to notice all the little details, the colours, the surface, is it pleasing to your eye and so on. Next, pick it up and feel it, is the surface smooth, hard, soft, grainy? Does it make a sound? Does the wrapper crackle when you touch it? Does it smell? What does it smell like? Now go ahead and open it, look at it again without the wrapper. Smell it again sans wrapper. Pop it in your mouth. Does in clink against your teeth or mae any other sound in your mouth? How does it taste? Is it sweet, salty, creamy?

So how did you do? Did your mind wander? If so, the important thing here is to realize where your mind wandered to. Where did your mind want you to go? Now that the exercise is over, go back to where your mind took you, this time on purpose. Why do you think your mind wanted you to be there? Analyze your wandering thoughts.

This exercise has many benefits other than “push-ups for your mind”. It’s a moment of relaxation often referred to as “stopping to smell the roses”. Try the exercise daily with different objects to keep your brain in shape, and see where it takes you…

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