Interest | Wellness

Mindlessness vs Mindfulness

Jumat, 28 Jan 2022 16:00 WIB
Mindlessness vs Mindfulness
Foto: RFStudio/Pexels
Jakarta -

As modern society becomes more aware of the importance of our well-being, more people are trying to practice mindfulness. This term is often aligned with other spiritual practices such as healing, meditating, or Zen-living. But as mindfulness becomes a more popular way of living, some are skeptics of its positive impacts. On the other hand, mindfulness can also be seen as unnecessary and have damaging effects. Some researchers even state that sometimes it's important to be mindless. So, which one is true?

Mindfulness refers to a psychological state of awareness and being present. According to Jon Kabat Zinn, an American Professor who is the founder of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, mindfulness is "the awareness that arises from paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmentally". In its simplest definition, mindfulness is the act of being present. Inspired by the teachings of Buddha, Kabat-Zinn has practiced Zen-living since 1965. According to him, mindfulness could be the answer to a better world by changing how society thinks. Because, in the era where politicians are busy fighting each other and when the ecosystem is in collapse, developing an awareness could be the answer our society needs.

According to the American Psychological Association, there are many benefits of being mindful. Several of them are; to reduce ruminations, stress reduction, boosts working memory, focus, less emotional reactivity, more cognitive flexibility, and relationship satisfaction. There are several ways to achieve mindfulness, one of them is through meditation. Many people mistake meditation as the equivalent of mindfulness. While in fact, mediation is merely a tool to achieve mindfulness.

Although mindfulness has proven to be beneficial, psychological research has also revealed that in some circumstances, being mindless is equally important. Being aware all the time is tiring and sometimes may not even be necessary. For example, when we ride a bike or brush our teeth. It also can have some damaging effects, particularly when you perform well-practiced skills. For example, cognitive scientist Sian Beilock through her research found that skilled golfers perform worse when they focus more on their swing.

So, when it comes to being mindful or mindless, what do we choose? Ellen Langer, a psychology professor at Harvard University, said that mindfulness isn't much harder than mindlessness. Each day, our mind and body decide to be mindful or mindless, maybe even without realizing it. Being mindful is not the same as effortful thinking, which could result in stress. Effortful thinking sometimes can also be categorized as mindless thinking. For example, when you believe that something awful will always happen, even when you don't have proof that it will go badly. Even when we are on vacation, we can also practice mindfulness by enjoying our time and paying attention to our surroundings.

At the end of the day, being mindful does not mean being aware all the time or calculating your every move. But instead, developing a sense of awareness and not jumping to conclusions or being hot-headed. It's not about choosing between being mindful or mindless, but about practicing mindfulness correctly. You may even already do it right now without realizing it.