Tag Archives: pace

An Adventure in the Mindless Zone and How Habit can Become Your Enemy or Your Faithful Friend


These 2 gadgets are so alike, they’re almost twins, right?  Right?

This morning, fellow grasshoppers – and in my defence I must point out that it was before breakfast – I single-handedly engineered the briefest of entertainments from the Mindless Zone.  And I’m betting that, like me, you do something similar quite regularly, too.  Can we learn something from it?  Only future moments will tell.

The Mindless Habit Scenario.  Lola and I go for a walk most mornings, and I’ve developed the habit of slinging my camera in its bag over my shoulder and taking it with me, after once spectacularly failing to capture some fabulous shots of ducks (a mother and her duckling – irresistible, n’est pas?) under my favourite tree in the park.  Annie Leibowitz would not have missed these shots.

During today’s morning walk, Lola snapped off a few shots with her compact and, in the end, I didn’t use my camera at all.

Later.  The Mindless Habit – Exposed.  After breakfast every day, I do an exercise routine and use my mobile phone’s timer to count down the sets.  This morning, I couldn’t find the phone in its usual spot on the table in the back room, so I went to the kitchen.  No phone.  Back to the usual spot. No phone.

Unusual spots.  You guess it – nada.  Phone missing, no visible signs of burglary by felons unknown, or lip-smacking consumption by felines known to the household.  I can’t call the phone because it’s turned off.

Next.  Worry for a while and wonder about grey matter turning into blanc mange.  Worry further and fling papers about, re-check all suspect places.

Note presence of camera on table in back room where phone normally lives.  Developing sense of panic interrupted by slow realisation.

The Mindless Zone Strikes.

How did my camera remove itself from its bag – left on the kitchen bench after our walk – and travel from there to the study?  Poltergeist?  Pack cat? Our Dotty always looks suspicious, but no, she has no interest in gadget theft, only food.  Pack rat?  None we know of, and surely they prefer real chips not digital ones.

I step lively to the kitchen, grab my camera bag and find the answer.  The camera never left the house.  The phone nestles inside where I placed it this morning as I proceeded to gather myself together for our walk.

I don’t remember a thing about the event itself – the bagging of the phone and not the camera – because I was travelling in the vague territory that is the Mindless Zone, where phones and cameras sitting close together appear indistinguishable from each other, and because the Mindless Zone creates Mindless Eyes, and Mindless Eyes might as well be wearing a blindfold.  The Mindless Zone also creates Mindless Hands, and Mindless Hands might as well be wearing Antarctic gloves for all the sensitivity they contain.

Habit can be efficient and useful, and it can be mindless and ridiculous.  the results depend, of course, on whether we’re travelling in the Mindless or the Mindful Zone.

A Mindful, Habitual Answer

The third time I locked my keys in the car because I was zooming along in the Mindless Zone, I taught myself the new habit  of taking those keys out of the ignition with Mindful Hands and looking at them with Mindful Eyes before exiting the car and locking the door in the Mindful Zone.  (I haven’t called the auto club since).

I’ll try that with my camera and phone.  Of course, travelling at my own pace and getting ready the night before has much to recommend it, too.

Which one do you prefer?  Why not do both – with a belt and braces you can’t go wrong, and you’ll be living in the now where the only and the very best memoir happens.

Remember: Memoir = Life = Now


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How Snail’s Pace Wins The Race – The Mindful Zone of the Memoir Mind



Are you the kind of person who travels best at a particular speed as you move through your days?  I know I am.  I think most of us are – whether or not we recognise it as such, our particular speed is there.

There may be a little wriggle room either side – slightly faster, slightly slower, depending on the time, circumstances, degree of perceived urgency – but you find that, at a certain rhythm, at a certain pace, you hit your straps, and all is well.  The sun, moon and stars smile upon you and accidents are rare.

Like the snail in the picture, you travel the way you’re built to travel, physically and mentally.

Let’s call it the Mindful Zone,  because you’re a Gershwin baby: you’ve got rhythm, you’ve got music, you’ve got your house in fine order.

It’s a little like the concept of flow, described by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi in Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience.  But rather than a state of rapture, or the sort of focus attributed to the artist Michelangelo, an extreme example of flow – days of total focus on, and absorption in his art to the exclusion of sleep, food and breaks – I’m interested in the everyday rhythms and speeds of our daily lives – a couple of the elements that contribute to flow.

Your Mindful Zone may equate to a waltz in its timing, a two-step, a tango, a polka, or a salsa, a foxtrot or a cakewalk.  It doesn’t matter which, as long as it gets you through the dance card that makes up your day.

Outside your Mindful Zone, however, too far above or beneath your optimum rhythm and speed, beyond the wriggle room, bad things tend to happen:

  • You slice your finger cutting the vegies too fast with a new knife
  • You jump the gutter backing out of the driveway in a hurry, and you’ve already projected yourself to your destination
  • You forget to buy stamps at the post office because you were running late for the termite inspection
  • You flip the omelette onto the hotplate instead of the dinner plate because it’s way past dinner time and the omelette was supposed to be the easy option
  • Or you flip the omelette onto the hotplate because you contemplate the required wrist flick and pan turn for far too long; you visualise the MasterChef doing it the other night in slo-mo and you overthink it
  • You put the milk in the pantry and the crackers in the freezer because you’re distracted, by something, anything.
  • You think you should keep pace with your partner, offspring, sibling, parent, anyone else who isn’t you.

These are symptoms of the Mindless Zone and it’s a scary place.

At its worst, the Mindless Zone can be tragic, or fatal: after jumping the gutter and bottoming out, that car’s driver my go on to encounter only a bingle, or something far less savoury and entirely life-changing.

The Mindless Zone is like the Twilight Zone, except that you’re here, now – and that’s the answerHere and Now. The Mindful Zone.

You instinctively know your own pace – your best rhythm and speed, your unique time signature: waltz, samba, cossack kicks, do-si-do.  Feel for it, listen to it.  Be here, now.

The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dogs.  Was the fox jumping within its Mindful Zone?  Were the dogs simply enjoying their Mindful rather than Lazy Zone?  Only they can tell.  Only you can tell when you’ve discovered this truth and become a Gershwin baby in the Mindful Zone of the *Memoir Mind.

So hasten slowly like the snail and find the time signature that is your Mindful Zone.

*Memoir Mind – a state of mind in which you are calmly aware, from moment to moment, of your life and thoughts.  In this state of mind, you are able to see things from a different perspective.  You may be in a position to begin decluttering, discovering some important truths, and creating your legacy.

Memoir mind: a state of calm excitement.

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