Thursday, March 13, 2014

Where Am I Now? Now? Now? Now?

     At one time, parents were advised to always ask themselves "Do I know where my children are right now?" It's also important to be aware of where my attention is at any moment in time!
     Usually, it makes most sense to be consciously aware of what's going on in the present moment around us and within our mind-body. In this mindful way, we're most likely to behave appropriately - in the best long-term interests of all concerned.
     Mindlessness of various sorts (absent mindedness, distracted, multitasking, catastrophizing, wallowing etc) is generally the shadow side of mindfulness, resulting in much wasted time, loss of productivity, passivity, errors, accidents etc.
     At specific times & places, where mindfulness is not essential, eg relaxing weekend at home, "mind wandering" can contribute to: "self-awareness, creative incubation, improvisation & evaluation, memory consolidation, autobiographical planning, goal driven thought, future planning, retrieval of deeply personal memories, reflective consideration of the meaning of events & experiences, simulating the perspective of another person, evaluating the implications of self & others’ emotional reactions, moral reasoning, & reflective compassion." 
     Yes, mind wandering has potential short- & long-term personal value, under the appropriate circumstances. But the fact that people spend "up to 50% of their waking hours" at it means that much of the time it has negative consequences, and may be a form of avoidance. Open-hearted engagement, in real time, with whatever is at hand, seems to be optimal. Escape into our heads, or increasingly into our smart phones, is avoidance of what's real & what needs to be addressed. If one is intentionally relaxing in a familiar environment, then one can intentionally, productively engage in mind wandering without negative consequences.

       Scott Barry Kaufman "Mind Wandering: A New Personal Intelligence Perspective." Scientific American September 25, 2013.

Daydreamer by Leah Welch

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