I have a morning routine. Wake up, check the plant light on my aerogarden, turn on electric kettle, go to the bathroom, brush my teeth, open my computer, check by email, calendar and to do list, steep tea, meditate as tea steeps, etc, etc, etc….

You get the gist.

I get out of bed and then I automatically do about twenty five things.

Am I doing them mindlessly, or am I actually doing them mindfully?

When you do things by rote, it’s just automatic. We set these patterns in our head…we attach one thing to another and before you know it we have a series of habits that get us through our day. And one could argue that once we’ve established a pattern, our brains stops working. We become automatons:

But by doing things that are routine, are we allowing our brains to rest? And isn’t letting the brain rest part of being mindful?

I know. I appear to be making no sense. How can something be mindless and mindful at the same time? Am I saying that we are multitasking and we don’t even know it?

Madness…

I once told my Doctor that I wondered why I am able to retrieve all sorts of useless information, yet I never remember anyone’s phone number (this was in the olden days when we actually had to dial a number on a landline) My Doctor said that this sort of information retrieval was good: he said that the intelligent use of storing information in our heads was to take note of things not easily accessible, the random facts so to speak. He said that instinctively my brain knew that I could always open up my phone book and get the number. My brain was being mindlessly mindful. It was allowing me to use my brain to its greatest potential.

Isn’t that the whole point of mindfulness?

Isn’t the goal to give us inner peace and clarity? If we do things by rote, doesn’t that give us a sense of peace, because we don’t have to actually think about it?

Am I making any sense? Or am I just writing the preface to a new sort of self help book that won’t actually help anyone?

This is my out of the box theory on the whole mindfulness craze. I figured it was my turn to come up with a new theory to add to the thousand or so mindful theories that are already out there…Who is to say that we don’t need another?

What do you think?

Can we be mindlessly mindful?

66 thoughts on “Mindlessly Mindful

  1. I’m not an expert on mindfulness, but here’s my take on it: With mindfulness, we have a keen awareness of something. That can be our surroundings, an activity, a memory. I agree with you that routines allow our mind to rest. And that can free up energy for a greater awareness later, when we’re taking a walk or doing a hobby or whatever.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I think that I would have high blood pressure if I didn’t have routine. Or at least more anxiety. I am a creature of habit by choice.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. One of your older blogs: The Answer is No helps free ‘up energy for a grater awareness later’ as Dave Williams pointed out. Use your mindfulness where it is most needed, outside of your comfort zone.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. A paradox. I think mindfulness is about being aware of our patterns; not that we don’t have any patterns. If we are aware that we are in a particular pattern, having awareness about that pattern, means that we can disrupt that pattern, if we choose, and create a new pattern, or habit. However, if we are unaware of the pattern, and are just reacting, then choice about the pattern is unavailable. Thus, we are not accessing or practicing mindfulness. Nice question, LA.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I really like this…I’m aware of my pattern because sometimes I slightly shift what I’m doing…it’s not 1, 2, 3 etc….sometimes it’s 1, 7, 4, 2….nice comment to get me going!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m currently reading a book in which the author claims that we have been misusing the word mindfulness. I won’t go into detail, but it’s pretty cool how I just read that yesterday and you’re talking about it today. (The book is How to Stay Human in a F*cked Up World by Tim Desmond).

    Every morning I get up and go through a similar routine. It’s like my body is going through the motions. Kind of like when you’re driving (or walking) somewhere and suddenly you’re like, “How in the hell did I get here?”

    Autopilot.

    That’s what I call it. I feel like we all crave some sense of familiarity and routine. I absolutely love the idea of inner peace that you suggested. I also LOVE the idea of writing a self-help book that won’t help anyone.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Sure. We can and are mindlessly mindful. Some of it is routine, some of it is ritual. But we all are doing what needs to be done, without laboring about what to do. Isn’t that the essence of mindlessly mindful?

    Liked by 2 people

  7. This seems like a philosophical debate based on how one defines/interprets mindful vs. mindless. The context of what you are doing at the time also needs to be involved. Routine is mindless if you have no clear delineation of the consequences or result of your actions. If however, you have a purpose in that mindless list of routine tasks then the simple act of awareness makes it mindful.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Yeah…Jeff said something similar, and I really like the track you two went on…I’m not just rote doing things…I have a reason and I can call an audible if need be…love the train of thought

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Maybe?

      I’ve been listening to a Youtube series https://leigh.la/mindful-moments-videos in which Leigh Koechner keeps repeating the mantra “Mindfulness means giving all of your attention to the present moment with no judgement.” I just finished Episode 8 where she said “Don’t allow your mind to tell your heart what to do because the mind gives up easily.”

      I found this woman through a FB ad for Divorce Coaching and discovered that she herself is currently in the process of divorcing so IDK how long she put that last thought into practice. Maybe the mind and the heart have to meld to make the “right” decision? I know this doesn’t really get to the heart or the answer of your question but, just looking at this definition of mindfulness I’d say that you probably can’t be mindlessly mindful very often because your mind should probably be engaged in the mindfulness.

      I imagine this probably happens sometimes when we’re mindlessly going through our morning routines but if you’re like me my mind is in usually in no shape to be paying more than minimal attention to that present moment because neither my mind or my body are fully awake at that time!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Yep, I always say I am keeping the space in my head for the important stuff. The morning routine is not important stuff so I don’t need to think about it. Now, WHILE you are doing those things, what are you thinking of? If you are giving your mind a rest, you’re not thinking about anything. If you are not, you’re thinking about 25 other things while you’re doing those 25 routine things. No wonder people get headaches – LOL

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  9. Mindlessly Mindful? You might be able to be. It sounds to me like a disciplined personality that likes to accomplish things every day and knows a routine is the best way. Mornings also are the time of day when people often have their highest energy and so they like to tackle then what they might procrastinate on later in the day. I think also that you could be mindful automatically due to your routines, you automatically don’t fidget while waiting for your toast, instead you practice breathing for two minutes. Next topic ? – oblivious people

    Liked by 1 person

  10. This actually makes a lot of sense. Mindfulness is being mindful, aware, of our present situation–what we’re doing, feeling, our senses, etc. But when we are stuck in a routine, I think we lose that. We’re just doing what comes naturally and not giving any thought to it. Recently I’ve actually tried changing up my routine and to be more mindful of that very moment. It feels different. Kind of hard to explain, but it just does.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. The “whole mindfulness craze” is about focusing your mind on yourself. The alternative to that is not mindlessness, but focusing your mind on God.

    Indeed, the call to being “mindful” is a call to distract yourself from what is most important in your life. It is a call to waste your time in self-centered meditations. Fundamentally it is atheistic or idolatrous. It sees little or nothing outside of the human being and so as a consolation prize it tells you to just focus on yourself.

    So, how do you focus your mind on God? You focus your mind on God (Jesus) through prayer, reading the Bible and obedience, that is, paying careful attention to how you live your life morally.

    My answer to “Can we be mindlessly mindful?” would be to stop focusing your mind on yourself and start focusing your mind on God. Then the question about being “mindlessly mindful” vanishes as irrelevant.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Once you’ve established a new theory about mindfulness, you can develop a new -ism. Or you can just have a cup of perfectly steeped tea and write a blog post. On balance we need tea and blog posts more than we need new theories of mindfulness and new -isms.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I think you have something here! Mindlessly mindful seems to make sense… letting your brain rest by doing something mindless. But then are you really paying attention to what you’re doing and being mindful? Sometimes my husband and I love watching a show on TV that is ‘mindless,’ so we don’t have to think about it too hard. So I’m being mindful of my mind, letting it rest! Does any of what I just said make sense? lol 🙂

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    1. Hmmmm….I think mindless tv is great because I think you don’t need to think…you watch it in a surface level and it fills your head with fluff but that’s ok because all brains get tired. When I’m doing my morning routine, I’m striving for efficiency…so while I might not be totally into feeding my dog, I know that I’m nourishing her. But as for my other habits, and I’m thinking this out in the AM…as I go through the steps, I am thinking about each thing in the moment…when I made my bed it was about making the bed…Im going to say yes…routines can be mindful

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Ooh good post LA the only trouble is my brain hurts, is my religiously adhered to morning routine mindlessly mindful? No idea, all I know is I have to be at the bus stop by 6.25 am or my day is well and truly f*****!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was thinking about this this morning as I go through the steps. By knowing by rote what I need to do, my mind can concentrate on the individual task. As I went through each step, including commenting on blogs, I am 100% in the moment, except when the dog jumps on my lap

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Interesting concept. If we are doing our morning routines without thought and on autopilot, are we gaining anything from them? Maybe we are, but not as much as we could be if we were present in the moment.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. However…I’m paying attention this morning, and realizing that even as I’m doing the routine, I’m present in each activity because I don’t have to think about what comes next…

      Liked by 1 person

  16. But the purpose of mindfulness is to actually be aware of what you’re doing at the time, right? It’s not to be on autopilot. Just your tea drinking alone could be done mindfully (I saw Thich Nhat Hanh explain how you can drink tea for three hours or something like that), so I don’t know, unless i’m missing something.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m putting it into practice this morning. As I’m going through the steps, I’m completely mindful of each thing because I’m not thinking about what comes next…the steps just flow and I’m in each moment…like now I’m strictly focused on answering comments. It might also help that the first things I do is free journal and go over my to do list, so everything is out if my head and in paper…

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Autopilot is a good term for this. When I was actually going to work in an office, I probably did more of this than I do now. I had a routine in the morning that had to be adhered to in order to get out the door on time. Now, I try and be more *present* in the things I do…even the mundane things. But it never ceases to be amazing to be that I can be halfway down our street and cannot remember if i shut the garage door! 😆

    Liked by 1 person

  18. No, you cannot be mindless and mindful at the same time – the whole point of mindfulness is that you focus on what you’re doing. When I walk mindlessly, I am noticing my surroundings, I am thinking about anything & everything. To be honest, this is my usual state when walking. But when I walk mindfully, I am focussed on the process of walking, on my foot’s roll from heel through to toe, on my posture, on my breathing – there is no room for exterior thoughts. I find both beneficial – it just depends what I need at the time.

    When you follow a routine, stuff will get done – and you can either do it mindlessly or mindfully, but not both at the same time. When you do physical things by rote while thinking about something else, you are multi-tasking.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. “Am I making any sense? Or am I just writing the preface to a new sort of self help book that won’t actually help anyone?”
    I feel that way with every post I write, how much mental meandering can one do before you’ve gone from telling a story to blathering incoherently?
    There’s something to be said about doing things intentionally, thinking through the steps as you do them, but there comes a point where doing that starts to interrupt the action itself…

    Like

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