Sometimes my mind loves black and white thinking.

And sometimes I hate that it does.

And no, the irony of this is not lost on me.

If I am thinking “mindlessly,” meaning without mindful awareness, my mind loves to decide right/wrong, good/bad, like/don’t like.  Not only do I gravitate to this way of thinking myself, but I also can project this on to others.  I often “return to mindfulness” only to find that I am in the middle of a story about whether “they” think I did something right or wrong…

It seemed like just another day

Late afternoon, long day, pulled up to the grocery store.  Suddenly realize I don’t have my wallet. “Did I leave it at the library yesterday?  Is it in my other bag at home?  Did I lose it? Damn, I need a few things for tonight’s dinner.”

“Okay, I have my checkbook. They don’t need ID for a check, right?  Not if it’s small.” I convince myself that I can write a check without ID and I head in.  I quickly get only what I need for that night’s dinner and go to checkout.  The feeling that I am trying to get away with something is lurking beneath the surface. I am unaware that I am slowly sinking into the world of right/wrong.  My “mindlessness” has caused me to miss that I am putting myself on trial.

The nice cashier asks for my ID. “I don’t have it. I left my wallet at the library, or maybe in my other bag…,” I start to ramble. Then I think, “this makes me look more suspicious, like  a fake check writer”. I blush. My black and white thinking kicks in with, “You are bad for not having your ID,… for being a fake check writer, a broccoli thief.” (I actually have money in the bank, but my unconscious good/bad thinking can convince me of almost anything if I’m not paying attention.).

The checker’s eyes are saying, “What is wrong with this person?”  She calls over the next checker, the bagger joins in, then the next bagger comes over and finally the manager… all five women staring at me and asking me questions, “Why didn’t I bring my wallet? Have I written a check here before? Do I come here often?” I am imagining all the judgments they are having about me and they are piling on all the judgments I am having about myself. I am starting to sweat. Then my feet are glued to the floor.

One of them vouches for me, “She does come here a lot, I’ve seen her many times.” “With my wallet!” I want to cry out in my defense.  But I can’t. All I can think is, “These women think I’m guilty and a thief.”

“My check is good,” I say meekly, which only digs me in further. I feel like a felon! All I want to do is wish everyone a good day and leave the store. The groceries are really not that important, but I can’t. Not only do my feet feel like unmovable cement blocks, but so does my black and white thinking.  It’s telling me that I must have done something wrong even if I don’t know, and the store employees don’t quite know, what it is.

Mindfulness helped me Break the Trance. I finally unglued myself from the floor, gave up on “redeeming my good name” and realized that nothing was actually wrong.  Maybe this sounds obvious to you (and even to me in retrospect), but that day I was lost in the trance of “something is wrong – it must be me.”

I Took Perspective. By seeing the size of this situation in the larger scheme of things I realized that my “Mindlessness” had made something small seem very big.

I Saw Clearly, realizing (after I called a good friend and had a good laugh) how extreme my thinking had been.  How trapped I was in the “bad”. And how far away I felt from the good.

This is the process of returning to myself again.  Returning to the process of living my life and leaving behind the fixed ideas, black and white ideas, about my life.

When I returned to mindfulness I realized,  “This is not a big deal. I have not hurt anyone, broken any laws or otherwise stepped out of line.  I just came to the store without my wallet.”  With mindfulness, balance returned and I felt like myself again.

Share your story. Connecting about it can be hugely helpful! Tell a friend send an email or write below in the comments about an experience you’ve had of “mindlessness” and the process of returning to mindfulness.

Remember these three steps:

1. Break the trance

2. Take perspective

3. See clearly

Rebekkah Teaches classes, workshops and retreats in the San Francisco Bay Area.       Save the date for her upcoming Women’s Workshop for all Daughters, Mothers, Sisters… in Faifax, Ca., May 12th

Find more info about her on her website:                                                                                                                                               Her Yoga and Mindfulness CDs are available on iTunes