Mindfulness Experiment Of Your Subconscious Habits

In this article you will be guided through a basic mindfulness experiment, that can make you aware of subconscious habits.

Since the experiment is quite easy to carry out, I strongly encourage you to try it out yourself. Not only is it fun, but you can gain insight into your subconscious habits.

The term subconscious is a big word, and not everyone has direct experience of it. As a result, it is bound to lead to misunderstandings. Before we start with the mindfulness experiment, let me explain clearly what I mean by subconscious.

Imagine that you are talking to a friend on the phone and looking out the window, at the same time. If you are totally absorbed into the conversation, you will hardly pay any attention to what you see outside the window. One could say, that whatever you perceive with your eyes, is barely registered by the brain. In other words, it is unlikely that you will be able to recall what you saw, after you have ended the call.

It is quite simple. Whatever you pay attention to, you are conscious of. At the same time, whatever you only direct a minute bit of attention to, remains subconscious. In summery, subconsciousness is the fruit of not paying attention. Another word for attention is mindfulness.

Back to the mindfulness experiment. What we will aim to do, is to redirect our attention. That simply means to give attention to things that you normally only give a fragment of attention to. This, is how you will gain insight into your subconscious.

You really don't need any experience with mindfulness practice to succeed in this experiment. If you are new to mindfulness, more than anything, be really patient with yourself.

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The Mindfulness Experiment

The habit of thinking has an enormous momentum. When most people floss, they are totally caught up in daydreaming, or thinking. That is to say, the bulk of their attention is directed to thinking. Even though you are cleaning your teeth with dental floss, you practically pay no attention to it. How is that possible? Well, it's a habit. When you have done something over and over again, you can do it without hardly paying any attention to it, at all.

Once when I did a long meditation retreat, I suddenly became aware of my subconscious flossing habits, by giving full, yet relaxed attention to the flossing, as opposed to thinking. What a wake-up call! The way I flossed, really surprised me. That was one of my first attempts at this mindfulness experiment.

Here follows a brief description of my unique flossing habits:

I start with the lower jaw, and place the floss between the front teeth, in the very middle. Then I move to the left, tooth by tooth, placing the floss between 3 more teeth. Then, I go back to flossing the first position over again, followed by 3 steps to the right.

The flossing proceeds to the very back of the upper left jaw. Tooth by tooth, I floss all the way to the very middle of the front teeth. Then, I repeat the same procedure on the upper right jaw, which means that the very middle, front position of the upper jaw is flossed twice.

Finally, I floss the very back of the lower left jaw, all the way to the very middle of the front teeth. The same procedure is repeated on the right side of the lower jaw. As a result of jumping around like this, several teeth are flossed more than once. The whole flossing process takes a minute to complete, and sounds a bit like picking a ukulele string.

It should be noted, that I have flossed for over 25 years, and do it effortlessly without a mirror. Like everyone else, I used to daydream while flossing; consequently, my flossing habits were developed subconsciously.

When was the last time you formed a habit mindfully?

In order to become aware of your subconscious flossing habits, floss at your normal pace and give relaxed attention to the flossing, not your thinking. Trying too hard will only result in physical and mental tension. If you catch yourself thinking while flossing, patiently bring your attention back to the flossing.

Remember that irritation and frustration greatly inhibit the ability to be mindful, therefore, it is vital to be forgiving of yourself. Opt to do the mindfulness experiment whenever you feel rested and at ease. With practice, your mindfulness will become more steadfast.

By being mindful of your flossing, you will be able to observe your subconscious habits. As long as you have flossed long enough to develop habits, you will most probably be surprised by your findings.

Be patient with yourself, and your subconscious will be illuminated...

Best of luck!

Related:   Continuous Mindfulness   You Are Consciousness   Reading Mindfully

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