Spoiler Alert: This is not a piece about meditation.
The framing I am thinking about when I use the term “sleepwalking mind” is the idea that a mind that is walking in its sleep is less likely to make great gains. It’ll go through the motions, fiddling away on tasks that can be done quickly but are also devoid of much value.The kind of things a sleepwalking mind will do involve low levels of engagement. They may move you somewhat, but not very far and possibly not in the direction you want to go.
One of the biggest ways a sleepwalking mind can be created is when you place tasks that are too large in it. Things like “work on report” or “finish book” or “renovate house” are massive undertakings that when presented as such to your mind end up putting in this state. Your brain gets stuck when it sees big steps. It doesn’t know where to start and where to go next. It just sees the desired outcome. It has no idea how to get to that outcome so it stumbles upon it through trial and error or avoids working towards it and spends time on things that are more comfortable or easier to do.
Waking up a sleepwalking mind isn’t hard to do once you figure out what to do…and follow through on that consistently.
So what can you do?
Simply put, you need to break down these big things into smaller things that your mind can digest more readily. You need to do this for everything that comes to mind. Need to work on a report? Break down the work into its smallest elements. Want to finish that book? What small steps could you go through to get there? If your house needs renovating then you need to break down that project to its smallest possible particles to make sure nothing slips through the cracks.
While it’s true that your mind needs rest, you need to make sure it is operating at optimal levels outside of those rest periods. A sleepwalking mind is neither restful – meaning it can cause stress because you’re not as attentive or productive with the more impactful work – nor is it optimal, meaning it demonstrates subpar clarity, focus, and awareness, leading to subpar results.