Let us explore some strategies that anticipate the use of mindfulness. Do you find that when you come into contact with an internal or external stimulus that there is an instantaneous reaction that you did not consciously think about? You saw someone in the street and instantly there is a judgment that they are too fat or thin, stylish or unfashionable, smart or dumb. When you talk to a friend and they mention their health, holidays, job, car, family is there an instantaneous comparison of who you are relative to them? Better or worse. Superior or inferior? When you eat your food, walk down the street, be in nature, spend time with family or a friend do you immediately skip being with what is present and jump to your relationship with the experience. A relationship of resistance with either approach or avoidance. Self-criticism and judgment!

In all of our encounters are you ever able to be with what actually is rather than further meaning making and selfing? No time to enjoy and savor what is present. Our minds are conditioned to subconsciously, automatically and autonomously self-referentially judge everything. We become aware only after our minds have determined what this moment means about you and what needs to be done to feel safe, loved and worthy.

Is there a way to break out of this mindless auto-pilot reaction? This lack of control over our relationship with our experience? Can we come to each moment prepared to act mindfully? Can we proactively respond rather than react unconsciously? We need to be prepared for engaging in life that will interrupt the automaticity of what one normally does. There are several approaches that I would like to outline.

Be with what is as it is

Not what I make it to be, need it to be, want it to be, believe it to be!


Before we speak, act or think there is an intentionality for our actions. We act for a specific reason. Conventionally we are not aware of what we plan to do and why. We are just swept away in the rapid unfolding of our processing mind. This is all a subconscious automatic and autonomous process to meet one’s unmet psychological needs. The truth is that normally the:

Intentionality for Intentionality is NOT Intentional

However, the intentionality can be known if we learn to bring awareness to what our minds and hearts are planning to do BEFORE we act. We need to slow down, pause and specifically look for the intentionality that precedes what we will do in the next moment. We are training ourselves to look forward! As one trains one’s mind to look for the intentionality slowly this will become an automatic and spontaneous action rather than a reflective process. We react instantly to a stimulus but this is followed by a natural pause that may allow for discerning reflection. It is in this pause that we can search for the intentionality. We can understand intentionality from the two perspectives of what one plans to do next and the reason for it.

Before we speak we actually will internally say what we are planning to say out loud in the next instant. We can choose to listen skillfully to become aware of what we plan to say next and the intentionality for our speech. Before we actually move there is a knowing of what we are going to do. We can bring specific awareness to the subsequent intended action of cutting of our food with a knife, standing up, lying down, going to the toilet, walking etc. Before our next thought we can become aware of the internal dialogue going on in our minds that reflects the current energy and inclination that can be predictive of what our next thought will be.

Awareness of intentionality can be supported by asking WAIT at the moment we become aware of what we are aware of.


Why am I thinking this?

What am I trying to do?

Why am I talking

One needs to be intentional to look for the intentionality! Awareness of the intentionality of what we plan to do next creates an anticipatory mindfulness. This allows one to be prepared to specifically look for what is intended to happen next and choose how to respond rather than react.

Intentionality Exercise

One can help cultivate this preparatory mindfulness by intentionally choosing a movement, thought or speech and then bringing awareness to the subsequent actualized action. For example, I would think: “I am going to get up. I am going to scratch my nose. I am going to reach for the pen. I am going to say hello or ask a question of my friend who is with me. I am going to create an intentional thought about something.” One will then be prepared to witness and be engaged with the subsequent action. This will help to create a habit of bringing anticipatory mindfulness to the subsequent planned action.

The other option to practice this awareness is to bring an intentional awareness to what your mind wants to do in the next moment. Just wait and observe to see what your mind is going to ask of you. Then you are prepared to respond rather than react.

by Dr. Phil Blustein
May 2, 2024