Thinking. Being mindful part I

Here's a scenario for you.

It's 2am and you rise groggily from your bed to answer a loud, persistent knock on your door. Outside is a well-dressed, well-spoken man standing in front of his luxury model car. He's obviously rich. He apologises nicely and says that he's really sorry, but he really needs some help. He's doing a scavenger hunt on TV, competing against his ex-wife, and he really wants to win, and he's willing to pay you $10,000 if you can solve his problem.

What's his problem? An item he hasn't found yet is a piece of timber, about 3 foot by 7 foot. Have you got anything that might do the trick?

You don't have a shed, so you can't go scavenging for something. You know there's a lumber yard down the road, but you don't know who owns it, and they wouldn't be in anyway. You can't think of any friends who have scraps of wood, and you just don't think you can help him. 

You say sorry, and goodbye, and ruefully think of what you could have done with $10,000.

This scenario was part of a seminar I listened to yesterday on mindfulness. I listened to it in order to help me with our autism therapy, but it turned out to have some very general and very helpful applications.

What would you have done? Could you have found a piece of timber just the right size and walked away with the money? It depends if your thinking was bound by categories or not.

If the categories that skimmed through your mind were 'scraps', 'timber', 'scavenger hunt', 'piece' or 'find', you might not have realised that you probably had your hand on something that would fulfill the criteria perfectly - your very own front door.

Being mindful can mean not being bound by categories or labels. It means thinking outside the square, trying lots of different options and analysing a problem more carefully before looking for solutions.