Mindlessness: An Introduction
My name is Dick Smidgin, motivational keynote speaker, and I want to talk to you today about my take on mindfulness. 'What is mindfulness?' people say to me. Or even: 'Where is mindfulness?' Sometimes people ask: 'When is mindfulness?' But those people are just being difficult.
Now, I know that some folk say that mindfulness is simply a load of old cock, devised to pander to the paranoid egos of a bunch of pathetic snowflakes and provide a lucrative income stream for silver-tongued bullshit merchants like me. And this, of course, is quite true - hey, I've just bought a house! But I'm sensitive to the validity of the observation and this is why I have developed my own form of mindfulness, which I call mindlessness.
What is Mindlessness?
Mindlessness is similar to mindfulness in many ways, especially the spelling, but it's cheaper and there is less paperwork. Some commentators describe mindfulness as 'noticing the world around them'. This is clearly a terrifying prospect, which is why one of the key principles of mindlessness is to rigidly define areas of our lives that it is perfectly ok to ignore.
Obviously, this requires concentration. It's very easy, for example, to ignore the sound of an animal in distress or the appearance of a particularly ugly child, but there are other stimuli that we need to train ourselves to ignore - the smell of an old lady, perhaps, or the sensation of being on fire.
Mindfulness is all about being 'in the moment'. Mindlessness, on the other hand, teaches us how to be a week last Tuesday. The great advantage of this is that a week last Tuesday is done and dusted - there's nothing that can be done about it now, so you may as well forget it. And remember, a week next Tuesday will soon be what a week last Tuesday was two weeks ago. So yeah... that probably means something as well.
So how does one go about becoming mindless? Well, there's hard drugs and alcohol but not everyone has the advantage of having a limitless income and a titanium liver. Nevertheless, there are two basic things that can help you.
Mastering your breathing is one of the main mindlessness techniques. Breathing is an incredibly wasteful and time-consuming activity and if we can learn to do less of it we can save a great deal of time.
But be warned, if you stop breathing altogether there will be a number of unpleasant side effects, including giddiness, nausea and death. Instead, try building up to it in gradual stages by holding your breath for longer and longer each time. One good technique is to alternate breathing in and breathing out on successive days. So, for instance, do all your breathing in on a Monday and wait until Tuesday to breathe out again.
Awareness, in mindlessness terms, is a double-edged sword. It's great to be 'aware' of some things - for example chips, television, shoes and so on. Sometimes being 'aware' means that we can avoid trouble - so, if you are 'aware' of a ten-foot hole in front of you, it can save you the trouble of being made brutally and abruptly 'aware' of your broken legs and an urgent need for medical assistance.
However, there are some things that we would prefer to remain unaware of - things like chickens, whiney little shits and Marmite. Unfortunately, the state of awareness comes with two problems. Firstly, it's automatic - it happens whether we want it to or not. And secondly, even when we're not aware of something, it doesn't mean the bleeding thing isn't there.
So, you think you're ready to start your journey towards mindlessness? It isn't easy, but it's not like you've got anything more interesting to do. Anyhow, here are some exercises that may help you on your way.
Dick Smidgin has a Level 2 Diploma in Mindlessness, Vapidity and General Disengagement and is available for corporate events, group sessions and one-to-one consultations as long as the money's right.