And the chambermaids removed my towels…mindfulness in action

I am new to mindfulness and mindlessness, but after listening to some lectures on mindfulness and following up with my own research, I have come up with some debatable insight into what mindfulness is and the efficient application of mindfulness within a practical context.

Mindfulness is defined as being present or self awareness  (watch Professor Langer’s youtube session). Another definition of mindfulness by a renowned mindfulness practitioner (Michael Chaskalson) “is a way of paying attention to yourself, to others and to the world around you”. In summary, there seems to be some level of agreement on a definition for mindfulness, albeit with varying constructs.  Reading through various available literature on the subject, my definition of mindfulness is being totally aware of the present situation, circumstances and environment. Being totally aware of the present implies you can capture the changes that happen within the environment you find yourself.

Mindfulness has also been explained by researchers using the 4 domains of consciousness and competence i.e. the Conscious – Competence Model, by stating that mindfulness is the state of conscious competence, whilst the other 3 states – unconscious competence, conscious incompetence and unconscious incompetence. These other 3 states are seen fluidly as states of mindlessness, which is a state some of the Mindfulness researchers claim to be an ineffective state to operate in. However, the views of 2 key researchers puts the effectiveness of constant mindfulness into doubt. One of the researchers, Erik Dune posits that “we are very much in the infancy of understanding whether mindfulness overall is useful, or more specifically the conditions under which it’s useful versus potentially harmful”.  Also Don McCormick, who is a Mindfulness practitioner says “I cannot write while being mindful”.
From my experience and understanding of the subconscious, it is also doubtful if indeed a mindful state is the most efficient state for us to operate in always. Yes, we cannot continue to operate in the sub-conscious state always, as my example here proves. In an experiment I conducted, I noticed that chambermaids automatically remove all white towels when cleaning hotel rooms, no matter the size or shape. It did not matter if these towels looked completely different from the ones provided by the hotels, the towels were removed. It is obvious they are operating in a mindless state. Removing white towels had been ingrained in them and they subconsciously remove those white towels from the rooms when cleaning. 

However, do I need to operate in a mindful state when brushing my teeth? Can I not use that moment to focus on other tasks or plan other activities?

So be very cautious before adopting mindfulness in all things you do.

Please post your comments and let us discuss mindfulness.


2 Responses to And the chambermaids removed my towels…mindfulness in action

  1. Adam B says:

    Good work Femi – very insightful…
    As you work in IT I’d like to know if you think a computer could every be mindful?

    • Adam,

      That is an excellent question and a difficult one to answer especially for a kindergarten level student of mindfulness. Nevertheless, I will make a stab at it…

      Basic computers as we know them today are not mindful and they cannot be mindful. Mindfulness stems from the ability to learn and basic computers cannot learn; their actions and capabilities stem from existing information that are pre-programmed into them, whereas mindfulness dictates the ability to learn from the environment.

      If you move a step further into artificial intelligence (still in the realm of computers), then you may start to see mindfulness in operation.

      The more I think about your question, the more confounded I am. My shallow understanding of mindfulness makes it quite difficult to do justice to the question.


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