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Mindfulness: The Oobleck Mind

How Oobleck can teach us lessons about mindfulness

Non Newtonian fluid colored in the pride flag colors
Pride Oobleck

  • Oobleck is a thick substance with a solid feel but can be easily moved by applying pressure to one area and then letting go.

  • The best way to understand this paradox is to think of an ocean wave: when the water rushes toward you, it's hard for you (or anyone) to move through it—but if you wait for the wave's momentum to pass, there's no resistance whatsoever.

  • Mindfulness teaches us how we can learn from these moments of stillness in our lives—moments that may feel uncomfortable at first—and use them as opportunities for self-reflection and growth.

So what is Oobleck anyway?

Oobleck is a cornstarch and water mixture that behaves like a solid when you press it. When you let go of the mixture, it

flows like a liquid. This makes Oobleck an example of a non-Newtonian fluid; its properties change based on how much pressure is applied. It's also one of the best examples I can think of for illustrating how mindfulness works in our lives:

  • Oobleck is simple to make—mix cornstarch and water (about 1.5-2 parts cornstarch to 1 part water).

  • It's fun for kids because they can play with it in their hands—pressing and poking at the Oobleck will cause it to behave as either solid or liquid depending on how much force they apply.

  • Because this experiment requires no special equipment other than measuring cups and spoons, anyone can do this science project at home!

It's a sensory experience.

You can feel it move between your fingers, changing with the difference in pressure applied. Each person will experience it slightly differently depending on their sensory experience and past experiences.

And like Oobleck, mindfulness is an experience that's different for everyone. For example, some people might experience mindfulness as lightness or clarity in their body and mind; others might describe it as a sense of joy or calm; others may describe it as a feeling of deep connection to themselves and the world around them.

That basic idea can be applied to life situations we encounter

In the same way, Oobleck is liquid when you move slowly and quickly becomes solid when you hit it hard. The important lesson here is that mindfulness can be a fluid presence or a more solid one depending on your context.

It's not a method for avoiding pain, but for allowing ourselves to be more resilient during painful times.

It's not a method for avoiding pain but for allowing ourselves to be more resilient during painful times. If your mind is a bowl of Oobleck, you can let go of negative thoughts that might otherwise hold you back. It's about changing how you react to difficult situations and trying harder to be aware of your emotions rather than letting them run wild whenever they want. The point isn't getting rid of hurt feelings or frustrations—it's knowing that those things exist in our lives and making the most out of them while they do. Just like Oobleck can be both solid and liquid at once depending on how it sits in your hand (or if an object comes into contact with it), so does mindfulness allow us to move fluidly through life without being held back by our own inner demons or outer circumstances.

It may sound silly (and sometimes it is). Still, this idea has been helping me tremendously when things get stressful: if I'm experiencing an emotional reaction while working through something difficult, instead of trying not to think about it or push myself past my limit until I break down crying...I let that feeling flow out onto my body instead! This might sound counterintuitive because usually when people get upset, we tell them not to think about what's upsetting them or try their best not to feel anything at all; however, this doesn't always work as well as it sounds—mainly since some mental illnesses are caused by chemical imbalances within our brains which means trying hard enough to suppress the emotions that come up during turbulent times will only make things worse later on down the road.

But we can control the way we react to that world.

The world is not always kind to us. We can't control the people around us or even how they behave. But we can control how we react to them. The same goes for the events that happen to us: we may not be able to change what happens, but we can choose how to respond.

Oobleck reminds me how fluidity allows me not to get stuck by things that try to hurt me.

The Oobleck reminds us how fluidity can help us through challenging situations. Sometimes, the best way to respond to hurtful situations is by allowing movement and fluidity in our lives. But other times, we must be firm in our boundaries and values. Through practicing mindfulness, we can have the awareness to notice these moments and choose which direction will bring us peace: our ability to rest or react in certain situations may be different daily.

Through practicing mindfulness techniques such as meditation and yoga, I've learned that it's ok for me not to have control over everything going on around me all at once- sometimes, my mind wanders off into thought spirals about things that no longer matter; other times I'm able to stay focused on what's happening right now; sometimes I find myself feeling overwhelmed by everything going on around me (this happens even more often when I try meditating).

Sometimes people will tell me that I shouldn't worry so much because "things always work out." However, they don't seem to understand that it's not the outcome that bothers me- but instead my inability to control everything around me at once (and still stay focused).

I hope that this blog post helps others who struggle with mindfulness practices or want to start learning how they can practice them more effectively. If you're still reading, thank you for reading, I hope we'll see each other sometime soon!

To follow my mindfulness journey as I complete the amazing Mindful Caregiver Stress Reduction Training, follow me on Instagram and subscribe to the blog.

For more mindfulness resources visit The Mindful Care Collaborative and tap in with their resources.

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