Being Mindful Rather Than Mindless

Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihaly, in his book "FLOW," describes mindfulness as an "optimal experience" of a moment or connection.

According to him, during such experiences, "concentration is so intense that there is no attention left over to think about anything irrelevant or to worry about problems."

Now that sounds kind of like being in love, doesn't it? I remember when I first fell in love, my focus on her was really mindful! Full, undivided attention.

Accomplishing the same kind of mindful focus and connection is possible in marriage, parenting, friendship, and other relationships as well.

It's not hard to see a common underlying deficit when we experience breakdowns - individually and relationally. We've missed being sufficiently mindful rather than mindless about us or others.

A couple I had as a client in session, Bobby and Teresa, is an example.

All day long in his life as a top notch lawyer, Bobby is objective, intellectual, and emotionally distanced. His profession rewards him for these skills.

I once heard his wife Teresa asking how he thinks their marriage is doing. And he responded with a long-winded, factual, objective evaluation.

Trouble was, Bobby misread Teresa's question.

It was a bid on Teresa's part to connect with her husband on a deep, meaningful feeling level.

She wanted affection, care, and gentle support - not a legal case presentation or defense.

Consequently, Teresa burst into much tears. "I can't understand and please her," Bobby remarked.

Bobby's problem was not incompetence or inaccuracy. He appeared quite skillful in assessing facts or even reactions surrounding their marriage.

His problem was that he got so stuck in the role of professional, objective expert that he was mindless of his wife's bids for emotional intimacy.

What's the antidote to such personal and marital wounding? Simply put, it has to do with being mindful rather than mindless.