The on/off switch
We all have a habit of letting our minds drift and roam, wandering from one thought to another. It can be sweet to daydream, imagine, rehearse or romanticize. Or simply mull over a problem.
There isn't a living soul who doesn't slip into an inner world of reverie. Our minds tend to wander more when we are stressed, bored or uninterested by the task at hand.
While catching up with a friend this weekend I confessed that I have been experimenting with consciously choosing to give my thoughts free rein — letting my mind wander without direction— curious about the ideas and feelings below the surface. I give this activity a start time: I let my mind dart wherever it wishes, creating whatever fantasies and stories it desires. And it does so with great abandon. I admit this feels indulgent.
I am aware that I am allowing myself to daydream. And, it feels very different from the daydreaming that happens when you are reading a book and realize you haven't absorbed one word, because your attention has wandered.
I think we need to let our minds wander freely, without any particular goal. To pursue a degree of mindlessness, from time to time. But to do this well we also need, in addition to a start time, discipline and an exit strategy. For me, this is being able to turn OFF the ON switch to my daydreaming sessions. On a dime.
When our daydreaming becomes addictive or compulsive, and leads to excessive rumination, the rehashing of old stories, or repetitive analyses of who did what and when, I see this as a negative form of mindlessness. It leaves you unhappy, worried, overwhelmed and unproductive. It lacks an on/off switch.
I prefer to cultivate a mindful meditation practice, where you pay more attention to your breath and not your thoughts, but if you need a dose of mindlessness, just make sure you know to flip the switch.
in mindful mindlessness,
My family, relationships, movement, nature, flexibility of mind, exploration of alternative perspectives & openness are central to my life.