Mindlessly Mindful

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?


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?

Pandemic Lessons

As the CDC and Emmy Award Andy have released/relaxed COVID restrictions, what have I learned from the past fourteen months?

  • it’s smart to have an extra roll of toilet paper stashed away
  • the way to stop the common cold is to wear a mask
  • television really is a vast wasteland
  • arts and crafts get boring after awhile
  • pink gel pens add oomph to an empty planner
  • it’s ok not to rush

Let’s zero in on my last comment: the need to not rush. If pandemic taught me anything, it’s that life is not a race to sprint from one thing to another. It’s not about filling the hours. It’s not about the destination: it’s about the journey…

When you have no where to go, and no time to be somewhere, you learn to enjoy the walk. You begin to notice things you’ve never noticed before. You learn to pay attention to your surroundings. You learn to employ all your senses when you stand on a street corner, or amble down the block. You become engaged with your surroundings.

Once I let myself, I really began to enjoy the journey…the thought of just being…I was free. Wearing a mask and socially distanced, but free…

This is great.

For me.

For my husband…

not so much…

How do you learn to appreciate the journey when your partner doesn’t feel the same way?

My husband is always more rushed than I am. He is a super jaywalker: he will just decide to cross the street when he feels like it because it might make him get someplace ten seconds sooner. As some of you know, when we went to Zion in Utah, as we started our way down the first trail, my husband looked over his shoulder and said to my daughter and I “COME ON” and I asked him what he was rushing to: were we trying to beat that other family to the entrance?

When we vacation, he wants to be in the car at 6am on the morning of our departure. He doesn’t want to leisurely make our way back: he is entirely focused on the destination. We are supposed to be home on Sunday, so let’s see if we can make it back by 8am….

He’s about the destination. I like being about the journey.

How do you reconcile the two?

What do you do when one person wants to take the short cut, and the other is OK with getting lost for a bit?

Last week we were meeting friends for a movie- about a 40 minute walk from our apartment. I wanted to leave an hour for the walk, because I wanted to enjoy the walk. He didn’t have a problem with the hour timeframe: he just wanted to rush through it….every time I wanted to take a picture or read something he made a face….a face of this wasn’t part of the plan- the plan was to meet D and K at the movies….and that’s all he could think about…

Don’t get me wrong: you know I am a hyper organized planning crazy drill sergeant. I have a list and I’ll check things off…

But is there anything wrong with scheduling a few less things so you can feel the experience more?

Is there anything wrong with slowing down just a little bit?

Is there anything wrong with being lost in your thoughts for just a bit?

How afraid are we to just be?