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The Value of Mindlessness
I’ve long said that this culture, and especially disregulated eaters, need more intentional mindlessness in their lives along with, of course, more mindfulness. Of course, it’s not something one could campaign about the way there’s a movement for mindfulness, but the value of mindlessness should not be underestimated.
Maybe it’s simply a question of being mindful enough to know when you want to be mindless. When you’re really tuned into yourself, that would sound like this: I sure am exhausted and my brain and body long for a rest. If that’s what I’m craving, then I’m going to tune out the world for a while until I feel refreshed. Do you hear any judgment here? Notice any struggle about whether this desire is right or wrong? None at all. My point being that the body/mind knows what it wants and needs and you ignore mindlessness at your own eating peril. If that’s what you crave, it will circumvent your best plans and lead you to food, convincing you that you’re hungry, had better eat now because you won’t have time later, need an energy boost, yada yada yada. It will disguise your need to chill out and tune out by making you truly believe you want food.
I got started on this line of thinking after reading a brief article entitled “Mind-blowing TV makes for more mindless snacking” (Sarasota Herald-Tribune, 9/9/14, 12E). Naturally the words “mindless snacking” caught my eye. It seems a Cornell University study observed viewers eating while watching “The Island,” a sci-fi thriller and those watching “Charlie Rose,” a public television interview program. The researchers’ conclusion: “The faster paced TV seemed to distract viewers more” (than watching a talk show), “contributing to mindless eating.” The “Charlie Rose Show” is excellent, but it aims to engage your intellect, while “The Island” aims to turn off your intellect. Another study concluded that the more distracting a TV program is, the more we eat. So if you crave mindlessness, leave food alone and do something that zones you out by itself.
You have every right to wish to turn off your brain. Forget being productive, chores left undone, to do lists, and telling yourself you’re lazy. Willingly treat yourself to some guilt-free mindlessness. By the way, it must be guilt-free or it’s not true mindlessness and you won’t reap its benefits. If you’re aghast or uneasy that I would advise such a heretical notion, think about why that is. Wherever did you learn such nonsense that mindlessness is wrong or a bad thing to do? Get rid of this fallacy and start practicing intentional mindlessness. During the day, stop and ask yourself if you need a little tune out. Remember, the more intentional mindlessness, the less mindless eating.