Although mindcoolness and mindfulness have many things in common, they are not the same. Both are states in which the mind is cool, calm, and collected (instead of heated, anxious, worrisome, twitchy, and agitated). Both are marked by grounded awareness, focused attention, and low cognitive noise. However, mindcoolness is broader; mindfulness is only an aspect of it.
As I have already discussed in another article, we can be in a state of mindcoolness during three different types of activities:
- flow activities (high energy, high performance, potentially maximum stress), for example, creative work, playing music, doing pickup, performing in front of an audience, having intense sex, training and competing in sports;
- control activities (medium energy, medium performance, likely medium stress), for example, productive work, everyday life handled well, socializing, self-reflection, self-motivation, planning;
- relaxation activities (low energy, low performance, ideally minimum stress), for example, stretching, listening to music, going for a walk, chilling on the beach, meditation)
That is not necessarily the case for mindfulness, defined as “moment-to-moment non-judgmental awareness.”* During relaxation, yes, we can and should be absolutely mindful. One could further argue that flow, too, must be a mindful state by virtue of being highly attentive and beyond a sense of time. Most of our time, however, when we are in control of our lives during everyday activities, we cannot always be perfectly present to the moment. We reflect on the past to learn from it, we contemplate the future to plan for it, and we often have to think about all the next steps ahead of us in order to keep a swift steady pace.
Doing chores or responding to emails while being mindful about one’s bodymind and its surroundings may be an interesting exercise, but it is certainly not the most efficient way to get things done. Many tasks in everyday life, especially at work, involve planning and making judgments. We cannot complete them on autopilot while being fully immersed in the present moment. Non-judgmental awareness can help us take a step back to regain control of difficult situations, but if we were to take steps back constantly, we would not be moving forward.
This is where the grounded aggression of mindcoolness becomes important. While mindfulness is non-doing, non-thinking, non-judgmental, and pure, timeless being, mindcoolness can be either doing or non-doing, either thinking or non-thinking, either judgmental or non-judgmental, and either in time or beyond. Yet in doing, the cool mind has little thoughts; in thinking, the cool mind has little emotions; in judging, the cool mind has little ego; and in time, the cool mind moves purposefully. Being mindful, we cannot move forward with aggressive determination, but being mindcool, we can.
In sum, mindcoolness is mindfulness plus Will (unless one’s True Will is to live a fully automated monkish life). Mindfulness is not an end in itself (except while we are practicing it), but a tool to cool the mind in order to do the True Will. For non-judgmental awareness of the present moment makes us conscious of our busily judging mind, thus allowing us to act on those judgments that truly matter, rather than those that solely function as defense mechanisms to protect our ego and conceal our insecurities. While we must be aware of the latter, we only want to act upon the former, that is, on judgments based on values rooted in our primal nature and our native culture.
Practically, this means that in order to live in a state of mindcoolness, we must learn how to balance doing with being, aggression with serenity, and time with eternity. More precisely, we must allot time both for facing challenges and for retreating into ourselves, both for getting after our goals and for getting present to moment, both for courageously taking risks and for committedly sitting down to meditate—while always being aware of our mind’s changing temperature. Though freedom is the greatest good, we must find the golden mean between practical freedom (fighting for what’s good) and spiritual freedom (pure awareness beyond good and evil). Such is the rule of moderation.
*) The definition of mindfulness as “moment-to-moment non-judgmental awareness” is by Jon Kabat-Zinn, Full Catastrophe Living (p. xlix). For an overview of different definitions of mindfulness, click here.
- Why Mindcoolness Is a Masculine State of Mind
- How to Take Action Without Judging
- The Surprising Truth about Emotional Detachment
- What Is Mindcoolness? Pride, Love, and Will
- Why Judging Isn’t Bad
- Non-Spiritual Mindfulness Training
- The Evolutionary Roots of Mindfulness
- MBSR Mindfulness Challenge – Part 1 [Introduction]