When to practice mindlessness instead of mindfulness

Practicing mindfulness can benefit your mental state in numerous ways, from increasing creativity to alleviating stress and helping lift depression. But sometimes, a moment of mindlessness is what you need, like when you're performing a well-practiced skill like chopping vegetables, performing a well-rehearsed piece of music, or swinging a golf club. According to some scientific research, one way to avoid "choking" is to immerse yourself in what's called the "automacity" of the moment. From Scientific American:

…Psychologist Yannick Balk and his colleagues had golfers try different interventions designed to mitigate the effects of performance pressure. The researchers induced performance pressure by videotaping the participants, telling them that their score sheets would be posted publicly at the clubhouse and incentivizing strong performance with coupons to the golf shop.

Without an intervention, the golfers performed significantly worse under pressure. Yet participants who were encouraged to think about something else—specifically, a song they knew by heart—improved when the stakes were high. It is worth cautioning that these results should be replicated in larger samples and across different contexts.

image (cropped): Lilrizz (CC0)