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My paper: Wander Mindfully

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Wander Mindfully

“‘Can’t stop thinking’ is an easy transition, but that is not logic for your paper.” Anne said so in a previous class when discussing about the use of phrase in papers. Her speaking is quite right to build a more constructed essay which can be revised and stored; however, in the real life time, we just can’t stop thinking. Even meditation can’t stop thinking, and it is especially focusing on one pure concept like love, or peace. Since we cannot stop thinking, it is very likely that our mind is always going out for a walk [I love this phrase!] when we are doing one task or nothing. This is called mind-wandering, first introduced by John Antrobus and Jerome Singer in 1960s, which is now a popular topic among psychological study(Singer and Antrobus). Recently, a study about mind-wandering carried out by Harvard researchers indicates that people are mind-wandering half of the time, and their daydreams seem to be unhappier than what they are currently doing (Mind-). Is this research result disappointing? Will it be helpful at some point to our life?
Mind-wandering can be a cross-time travel, reflecting the past experience and predicting about future, not just focusing only on the present. When I am writing my blog, I do the same thing as mind-wandering does: Move the topic from one to anther, simply by little connection they share in a very fast speed. Inadvertently, my mind would easily slip from my present class to the homework due tomorrow, and then to the weekends, to the Harry Potter new-released, to the books I read in my primary school…….and can never be accounted how many miles it has wandered. My professor would not like it [but perhaps she should just the lecture w/ this in mind??] if s/he could see that half of the students’ minds are all like runaway trains to nowhere [again: striking image, though you’ve just suggested above that those trains are actually going “somewhere”—back or forwards in time, for instance] when s/he is seriously giving a lecture. And as Daniel Willingham pointed out: “The fact that mind wandering seems “natural” does not, of course, make it desirable or acceptable” (Willingham). In response to an awareness that their students’ minds are frequently “wandering,” teachers may adopt different ways to “stir” the class atmosphere to raise students’ attention, such as organizing discussions, having ups and downs in intonation, or other activities that make changes in class. 
  While classes need to be re- designed to help students focus, , this does not necessarily mean that our minds should not wander at any time, even during class. Mind-wandering is not all useless and wasteful. People tended to be day-dreaming in two circumstances: when they are bored or stressed. When there is a burden on my shoulder, or just some unfinished task in my schedule book, I think of it whenever possible. According to Schooler et al, mind-wandering is goal-driven: “mind wandering, like other goal-related processes, can be engaged without explicit awareness; thus, mind wandering can be seen as a goal-driven process, albeit one that is not directed toward the primary task”(restless). That is to say, mind-wandering is a process like working on a math problem by searching for useful formulas. Amy Fries, the author of Daydreams at Work: Wake up Your Creative Powers, argued in her blog that our “mind-wandering capacity is like that computer program—it can get to solutions that your conscious mind just can’t see” (Mind).
 Sometimes, the tremendous speed of mind-wandering has been a real shock to me. Once in my high school Chinese class, the teacher asked us to mimic the “stream of consciousness” writing style of The Mark on the Wall by Virginia Woolf‎. I tried to record my random thoughts in one minute, but I failed. There was too much going on in my head, and I just couldn’t force it to slow down and let my “consciousness” to deal with it. What is more, many alternative solutions to my problems, which never appear when I am focusing really hard, simply pop out in my mind-wandering momenst.
     It seems that mind-wandering is a high-speed thinking pattern full of creation: “That’s why some scientists are trying to teach computers how to daydream, to make them more humanlike and more dynamic, something able to move beyond the limitations of task and the present” (Great). Therefore, rather than being seen as an “absent state” people want to abandon, mind-wandering can be understood as an advantage of our brain that we can make use of.
Such day dreaming gives us a chance to relax and let the “unconsciousness” part of the brain connect different memories stored in our head and make an association among them at a very high speed. At the same time, we are still aware of what is going on in our head, without the hard efforts of searching for a memory or an  idea. Isn’t this a fantastic cooperation between consciousness and unconsciousness? Teachers may say that the students who mind-wander in class are just halfhearted and will fail in schoolwork. But I say that they should just give them some moments of distraction and free them into the broad sky of thoughts. They might be very creative in some way, as their mind wanders mindfully. [again: you do have a way w/ phrasing! Very nice!]

Works cited [let’s review the format you are using]
JL. Singer, JS. Antrobus, Subscale Key: Imaginal Processes Inventory, 1966.
Carolyn Y. Johnson, Mind-wandering a fact of life, study says, , 2010.
Willingham: How 'mind-wandering' affects students,, 2010.
4. Smallwood, Jonathan; Schooler, Jonathan W., The restless mind. Psychological Bulletin, Vol 132(6), Nov 2006, 946-958.
5. Amy Fries, the Great Paradox: Daydreaming vs. Mindfulness, 2009.