Pragmatic Mindfulness

a boy (pragmatic by nature) trying meditation in a field
Almost exclusively in a state of unapologetic preoccupation, kids are the ultimate pragmatists.
Does mindfulness help you get things done? Is it not just another flavour of ‘balanced living’? Was Einstein a mindful man?

It could be an illusion, or a fad – I don’t know. What I am interested in is solving problems, or simply just Getting Things Done.

Feeling bad for being preoccupied, not being ‘present’, bring rushed, obsessed, or unable to think of much else that problem X is generally anti-rational. The problem with ever thinking that it is bad to, say, not ‘be present’, is: how do you judge whether it is necessary? How do you know when it’s counterproductive to be present, or to try to be present, relative to your circumstances/problem?

Because there is no way to judge this, all non-‘presence’ has become bad. It’s axiomatically bad in some situations — being preoccupied with hatching revenge on the guy in the lorry who cut you up three blocks ago is obviously stupid; creationism, given what we know about the universe today, is an untenable belief — but most of the time we can’t know, and in our not-knowing we’ve made the classic move for certainty, namely that selfish preoccupation is a bad thing.

This ideology has spooky similarities with religion. Ironically, it’s expounded most of all by those who have violated it the most; most of the advice given by successful people is of the ’slow down’, ‘be present’, ‘don’t stress yourself out – meditate!’ type — all things which they did absolutely none of in pursuit of the very thing that made them successful, that is, the achievement that is the reason they’re being interviewed and why people care about what they have to say! Great inventions and ideas aren’t products of an un-obsessed person or persons. We wouldn’t have the Periodic Table, Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, aviation, medicine, gadgets, Tesla, Amazon, Antibiotics, electricity, Art, if not for obsessed, non-present people.

It could be that mindfulness is helpful insofar as it forces you to stop, break the loop, and perhaps throw a required spanner into your routine; hard problems are sometimes solved in the shower.

PS If being mindful means you’re less forgetful then no, Einstein was not a mindful man.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.