When to practice mindlessness instead of mindfulness

Originally published at: When to practice mindlessness instead of mindfulness | Boing Boing

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For me this rings true when I’m playing a particularly difficult section of a game and have failed multiple times in a row. As soon as a minor distraction comes along; such as light conversation, thinking about lunch, etc. then I suddenly succeed where I’ve only been failing repeatedly in the past. Lightly breaking that intense focus helped me just do the task and not overthink it.


This is a Japanese concept: “Muga.”


Counter-intuitively, sometimes it can be a key component in “getting in the zone”. Although I don’t think mindlessness is a wise practise when chopping vegetables or engaging in any other activity involving a sharp knife.


I experience something like this while riding motorcycles.

Now matter how stressed, distressed, depressed or angry I am, when I get on a motorcycle I revert to the ‘me’ that rides bikes and everything is cool for a little while.

*I have done more than 10,000 hours motorcycling, it wasn’t always thus.


I can identify with this. I do mindfulness meditation and make a point of practicing mindfulness throughout my day. But certain tasks really do call for “automacity” or whatever the term in the article was. The example of chopping vegetables is a great one. I have tried to be mindful while doing that, and I either chop them much more slowly, more irregularly, or – in the worst case – chop my finger instead (I never raise the knife high enough to do that when I’m on autopilot). I feel like this is confirmed whenever I see a professional chef chopping things perfectly while looking in another direction and having a conversation with somebody, all at the same time.

I’m practicing mindlessness right now.


Relying on the body to function in automatic mode is only successful with actions that have been successfully performed many, many times, over a sufficiently long duration of time (e.g. a year) and at frequent practice intervals (e.g. every day or several times per day). If there’s been “garbage in”, as they say – you’ll get “garbage out”.


“golfing zen” “vegetable cutting zen” “music playing zen”…

Return to your original mind eh?

It seems like some folks in other parts of the world may have figured out this little trick some time ago…

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