Have you ever driven somewhere and realized you don’t remember actually driving there? “Autopilot” they call it; your body drives without you actually having to think, without noticing when you signal, turn, or put your foot on the brake. You almost definitely are thinking about something unrelated to the act of driving, yet your body knows how to do it.
If you understand what I mean when I say, “driving on autopilot,” you understand what it feels like to be “mindless.”
To be in your head and not in your body is to be mindLESS. When you are thinking about one thing and doing another it is mindLESS.
Mindful, then, is when your brain and your body are doing the same thing.
It isn’t bad to be mindless and good to be mindful. Just like it isn’t bad to let your baby hang out and suck on your boob even when she isn’t actually eating.
You just need to know the difference so that if you want to make a change you can.
The problem with mindLESSness is that we are so busy thinking about something other than the current moment that we miss the current moment. Our bodies are there, but we are not really present.
Mindfulness is a buzzword lately, but Ellen Langer has been talking about it her whole life, way before it was cool.
I’m going to borrow Ellen’s technique of “active noticing” to help you choose to move from mindLESS to mindFULL, i.e., to help you make sure you don’t miss the moments of this sweet life of yours. It is a really amazing tool I use in my life regularly to help me stay in my here and now.
Essentially, you make it a point to see the world around you, to really look at it. Then you notice what’s good.
You have the best little subject right there with you right now. Your baby!
Actively notice your baby.
Notice five specific features your baby has. Go for tiny features.
Like her cankle. Or his dimple. Her hair. His knuckle dimples. Her belly button.
Now notice how your baby smells. Sniff her. Take a long, slow deep breath in through your nose and get all that baby goodness. Fun fact! I sniff a lot of my babies (once I have gotten to know their mamas well enough). I firmly believe that regular daily doses of baby smells have inoculated me from needing to have any more of my own babies.
Listen to her. Listen to her breathe. Listen to her suck and swallow. Cry. Coo. Quiet the noise so you can hear that little voice.
Notice pleasant feelings you have when you touch your baby. Not all feelings are pleasant at first. Sometimes, your baby is inflicting pain upon you with every suck.
Notice the pleasant feelings. Lay him on your chest. Touch your skin to his skin however much feels right to you. Squeeze her cheeks.
Lastly, taste her. You know what I mean. Eat her face. Notice how simply delicious she is. (Disclaimer: Do not bite or eat your baby).
She’ll try to eat yours too like you are a boob. It’s one of the best things ever.
You have used all five senses to experience your baby. Pick one that is your absolute favorite.
Every time you see/hear/feel that favorite bit of your baby, take a deep, slow breath and remember where you are, what you are doing, who is in front of you, and that there are so many things in your life that are so very good.
Once you’ve gotten this down and you are thinking these thoughts every time your see your chosen baby bit, try looking for, remembering, and focusing on that baby bit whenever you are feeling mindLESS and you want to feel more mindFULL.