Whatever you’re doing, you´re doing mindfully or mindlessly and the consequences of being in one state of mind over another is enormous.
This week we’ve discussed the difference between mindfulness and mindlessness. The quote above is from Harvard social psychologist Ellen Langer whose groundbreaking work on mindlessness lead to some amazing insights into mindfulness. Mindlessness is another way of talking about our natural default setting, which is that me centric space which experiences the world as as series of absolutes–there is only one truth, one answer, win or lose, etc. We talked about the consequences of mindlessness and how it makes the political manipulation we see possible. By contrast we looked at how mindfulness, defined by Langer as the act of actively noticing things, allows us to open up to other possibilities. This can be useful whether we are dealing with a difficult person or situation or simply looking to connect to or make sense of where we are and what is happening around us.
In the SOC IFG we focused on mindfulness as empowerment, the ways in which mindfulness allow us to interpret and create the world based on our highest hopes rather than stay locked into playing by the system’s rules. Thus creating a new understanding of change as transformation and not reform. We started off talking about the ways in which communities of color can get caught up in mindlessness by insisting on only one solution to racism and adhering to a right and wrong paradigm which keeps them locked into and perpetuating the values and systems of the societies they hope to change.
In the All Student IFG we discussed the ways in which mindlessness can lead us to stress and competition. We talked about how an absolute framework does not allow for multiple possibilities so we’re competing with one another to find the answer first or win the argument which reduces our most pressing social and political problems into games that some people win and others lose and distances us from people whose suffering or struggles we don´t “understand”. And also narrows our experience to either good or bad (according to our standards) and has us hypercritical of ourselves and others.