Before we pursue the topic of mindfulness, let’s see what mindfulness is not. We’ll call it mindlessness.
Mindlessness: A funny story
My wife was shopping at Winners the other day. When she got to the checkout counter, she handed the cashier her new credit card. The cashier looked at it and handed it back to her, asking that she sign it immediately. So she signed her credit card in front of the cashier and handed it back. After running her card through the machine successfully, the cashier asked my wife to sign the credit receipt – which she did, of course. At that point, the cashier compared the signature on the card with the signature on the receipt… needless to say, they matched!
We do mindless things all the time. Like driving a car. A few years ago we (my family and I) moved to another town nearby. But after work, I often found myself pulling into the driveway of our old house! It took me a few times to get it right.
This is mindlessness. And it has everything to do with a conditioned mind. If you don’t practice mindfulness, you will default to mindlessness…
Our minds are malleable, like plastic. Over the years, our minds have been conditioned by parents and teachers. We’ve also been exposed to the media, trained by all of its various forms of advertising and news-making.
In fact, the ‘mind’ is a conditioned phenomenon. Which is to say: Our minds are the product of our environment. Habitual thinking forms the mind, setting it up to receive more of the same. An unexamined thought life will generate more thinking that is governed by habit and inattention.
Mindlessness (the default setting) causes us to suffer. When we remain unaware of our thought patterns, we are held captive in a room controlled by our false beliefs. As long as we remain unaware of these false beliefs, they have control over our lives. If you suffer emotionally it’s because of your mindless adherence to your false beliefs.
Are we going to remain powerless over our emotional suffering? I hope not! Is there a way we can awaken from our mindless slumber?
Next week we’ll talk about mindfulness, and how we can learn to wake up to the false beliefs that cause us to suffer.