Mindfulness Amid a Mindless Day

by Lesli Hill

Not long ago, I had one of “those” days – the kind that starts with a spilled cup of coffee, lost car keys and freefalls to a misplaced phone. This could have triggered a night filled with negative judgment about the state of my day.  Surely, I thought, my new calm, mindful personality should be emerging from its very natural tendency to fall heavily on the type A+ profile.  After all, I have actively pursued knowledge of the subject of mindfulness over the past four years and have been part of the Avila Mindful Wellness Lab for two years.  I had begun to grasp some of the theoretical constructs of mindfulness, but, now, I briefly declared my path to mindfulness a washed-out road.

I was in the library at the end of my very mindless day when I realized that I did not have my cell phone.  I had just settled in to do some research, spread out my papers and logged in to the computer bank when I started doing the lost phone Macarena.  You know that dance – pockets, purse, backpack, coat, scarf, back to pockets. Then I remembered putting the phone on top of my car as I was pulling on my coat.  But, aah, I did what I would not have done a year ago.  I calmly went on with my research and decided that my phone would still be on top of my car when I was finished – or it would not be there.  So, I stayed put and did the research that I needed to do. I let go of the worry about my phone, which, to be honest, is not a smart phone by choice.

Rewind with me to last year. I would have discovered that my phone was missing, cursed myself for being so careless and cursed myself again as I gathered my papers to make a mad dash to my car.  This would have caused me to run out of time to do the research before my class, where I would have paid no attention to my professor while turning up the volume of that radio in my head telling me that I was the mindfulness failure of the century.

Then, there was an incredible moment of understanding that spoke to me in a personally profound way.  I realized that being mindful has little to do about misplacing objects, or spilling coffee, or all of the missteps in between.  Mindfulness is about how I react to those circumstances and what kind of judgments I place on them and myself.  I will certainly misplace other things, maybe several times in a day, but I do not have to cut short my journey toward more mindful awareness.  There is still much to learn about being mindful even on a seemingly mindless day.