WHEN TO BE MINDFUL

MindfulIn Susan’s excellent book, EMOTIONAL AGILITY, she endorses the practice of mindfulness. She also frames it by its opposite, “mindlessness.” Mindlessness can be a problem.

Like when you walk in a room and forget why you walked in there. Or when I mindlessly put my powdered stevia in my mini fridge (when it goes on my desk). But those types of mindlessness aren’t the only kind that are problematic.

Habits are often described as “mindless.” And that’s exactly how we want them. But there’s a time when being mindless is the last thing we want.

A model I use (that I’ve erroneously attributed to Maslow) is Noel Burch’s Stages of Learning. Mindfulness plays a part in that model. Almost.

The four stages of learning are:
-Unconscious Incompetence
-Conscious Incompetence
-Conscious Competence
-Unconscious Competence

We all want to work our way down the model. We want to be good, competent, without having to be conscious of it…without having to be mindful of it. We want to be mindlessly good…but we don’t want to be at the top of the model.

Whether I’m teaching BioMechanics or BioPsychology, I try to highlight that all things become unconscious. And we want those things that are becoming unconscious to be effective. It’s when we’re ineffective that we want to be mindful.

We need to consciously practice an effective intervention. Eventually, we’ll be unconscious again. And when we’re unconscious, we gain speed.

Speed leads us to greater levels of efficiency. And efficiency is another concern. I not only want to be effective, I want to be efficient.

These wants lead me to be mindful in a specific manner. Around the time I’m performing, mainly before and after (I only want to be mindful during if I become slow or ineffective), I ask myself a few questions. Can I be (mindlessly) more effective? Can I be more efficient? And how?

For everything there is a season. There is a season to be mindless and a season to be mindful. And we don’t want to be in either season for too long.

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