Mindlessness: An Introduction


Hi There

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.

Becoming Mindless

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.

Some Useful Exercises

1. Vocal Feedback

For this exercise you will need an empty metal bucket and some understanding neighbours. The aim is to promote awareness of the sound of your own voice and, by extension, understand your impact on the world around you.

Find somewhere comfortable - sitting cross-legged on the floor is a good idea - then shout as loud as you can into the bucket. It's important that the words you shout are random - Wanker! Teeth! Wardrobe! are some good examples. Concentrate on the shape of the words in your mouth, the force of the echoes as they return to you and the smell of some of the more sibilant syllables. Do this until your ears start to ring or the bright red face of your angry neighbour appears at the window.

2. Give yourself a hug

A lot of us fail to show ourselves enough self-compassion (this is not to be confused with self-love, which is an altogether different and messier thing). Giving yourself a hug is a marvellous way of reinforcing your self-worth. Inevitably, it can be difficult if you don't particularly like yourself. After all, you might be a bit of a dick. You may wish to build up to it gently by giving yourself a firm handshake, a friendly pat on the back or a quick peck on the cheek. If you find yourself sticking your own tongue down your throat or fiddling with your trouser area, then you've probably gone too far.

3. Self-Interrogation

There are times when we all need to ask ourselves some searching questions. Questions such as: Where am I going? What am I doing with my life? Where did I put my car keys? And what was I doing round the back of the Co-op last Tuesday with my trousers round my ankles and a cherry tomato inserted up my fundament? But it's important to recognise that sometimes there are no answers - not if you don't want to get anyone into trouble, anyway.

That said, don't let yourself give yourself any shit. You have every right to expect a straight answer to a straight question and so if you find yourself giving yourself the run-around, it's perfectly ok to give yourself a little slap.

4. Connect with Nature.

Whether you live in a city or in the countryside, nature surrounds us. Give yourself a moment every morning to take it all in. Step outside, breathe deeply. What's that smell? Is it the dead fox in the flower bed or the rotting badger on the grass verge? Look at the way the trees sway in the wind, dropping their leaves and clogging the gutters. Look at the bin that's been knocked over by the kids next door, spreading all that crap in the road. Some poor bastard's going to have to clear that up. Cold out, isn't it? I should go back inside, if I were you, and put the telly on.

5. Mindless Driving

About 95% of all drivers are wankers, so the chances are that you are too. No offence. It can be very easy to become angry, frustrated or impatient when you're on the road - especially the way I drive. The mindless approach to driving is to try and remove those petty distractions such as traffic signs and road markings. Try to concentrate on pedestrian areas, shop windows and other roadside points of interest. Your journey will be much more interesting, even if it is more 'accidenty'.

6. Consider the Sauce

This exercise is a wonderful way of avoiding thinking about stuff that might actually matter. Place a medium-sized bottle of tomato ketchup in front of you. The technique works better if you use a bottle that has already been opened. Try to concentrate on every detail of the bottle. Consider its shape, the colour, the smell, the way the light falls on the streak of ketchup dribbling down the side, the texture of the cruddy bits around the lid. Do this for at least three hours or until someone comes along and asks you what the hell you are doing. Then stand up, angrily knock the bottle over and storm off. Works for me.


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.

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