Amit Gawande

I recently cribbed about how my smartphone was becoming the pesky little distractor again. I was planning to go back into a shell, keeping the device away from me for longer durations. However, I realised I may change the way and try being mindful this time.

I was hit by this thought during my guided meditation session today, when I came across this insightful observation.

In trying to bend our will to that which is helpful, we strengthen our ego. In letting go of the things that are unhelpful, we free ourselves of our ego. Same intention. Different outcome.

We depend on our willpower to control our situation. We achieve the results but don’t train our minds. As a result, we harden our habits and behaviour. What if we change our approach. What if we acknowledge the unhealthy thought. But rather than becoming more rigid, we become softer. Rather than rejecting, resisting, we let go.

Interesting. I tend to depend on my willpower to not fall for the poor habits. That hasn’t worked well for me — I avoid the habits for some time, but soon am back to natural poor state. My problems with my smartphone are an example of this behaviour. So, why not accept that my device is a bugger? Be mindful of the fact that my subconscious reaches out for the device frequently. And when it does, acknowledge it and let it go.

Be mindful of the attraction, but not be burdened by willing self into resistance. Remind self of the negative outcome and detach. Can I train my mind to not fall for the attraction but ignore it naturally?

One approach is rigid, based on will, based on control. Other approach is based on awareness. Recognising the thoughts that are helpful and engaging with them. Recognising the thoughts that are unhelpful and letting them go.

I have no idea if this would work for me. Who do I trust more, my willpower or my ability to be mindful? I have seen my willpower falter. Maybe I should give mindfulness a try this time. That’s what I have decided to do.