Thinking Without Thinking…

Mitch Schneider
March 5, 2021

This post is a perfect example of serendipity. An unplanned event. A less expected result. A different post about the same subject…

I just finished recording a video explanation of a blog I just posted on To paraphrase Bruce Lee, it’s about the art of thinking without thinking, or what martial arts and practitioners of Zen often refer to as Mushin.

Mushin is a state without the presence or interference of the conscious mind. A state devoid of ego, anger, and fear. However, it is not a state of thoughtlessness: a state without thought. It is more about the absence of conscious thought. Within the context of martial arts, it is the result of constant, repetitive practice designed to deeply imprint patterns of action and response.

The goal is to reach the point where certain actions will prompt a specific response without the penalty of conscious consideration. The time it takes to think about what to do. Time you might not have.

This idea of an immediate, yet appropriate response is deeply grounded in perfect practice and muscle memory. It has applications that go far beyond Zen philosophy or martial arts. They are present in any physical practice where allowed. I experienced Mushin while at the shop and in the service bay. And while it may seem this might be more prevalent in physical, task-based professions, I’m pretty certain examples of thinking without thinking are everywhere.

Mushin Automotive

I thought this concept was so important to personal and professional success I included it as a foundational element in Misfire: What to Do When Things Aren’t Running on All Cylinders.

The irony is it takes a tremendous amount of thought, effort, and action to achieve a state of Mushin. A state of no mind.

I know how this has impacted my life. I’m curious to know if or how it may have impacted yours.


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