Mindfulness & Autopilot Mode

You’ve just driven home and parked your car but can’t remember the traffic lights you passed or when you switched lanes. You have no recollection of how you drove home, yet you’ve arrived. 

Does this sound familiar?

Or maybe you feel that every day of your life is the same; you feel monotonous and find yourself wondering how the days, months, years have passed by. If you are nodding your head while reading, you are not alone! Most of us live on autopilot mode. 

In Mindfulness, the term ‘automatic pilot’ is described as a state of mind in which one acts without conscious intention or awareness of the present moment. In this mode, we cling to our habitual ways, do things without thinking while our minds are wandering. We are existing instead of living.

When on autopilot mode we can drive, walk, eat, get dressed without thinking. These are vital skills that help us in life. Our unconscious mind takes over the process when we are wandering in thoughts. But when we are doing things without awareness, we fail to engage in life itself. We don’t notice things that could have warmed our hearts like a dog wagging its tail, the ever-changing beauty of nature or a stranger’s smile. We feel disconnected, and believe each day is identical.

This mode becomes harmful when we start repeating the same patterns in our lives. When faced with a challenge, we don’t think; we react with our usual behavior. 

When we react the same way continuously, how can we expect to experience a different outcome?

With Mindfulness, we can ground and connect to ourselves and to life. We become present at the current moment by paying attention, purposefully without judgement. This is important because this moment is the only true moment we are living. We are not ruminating and not living in the past nor the future; we are here with our mind and body, aware of our surroundings. We start seeing things we have not noticed before and cherish our blessings that we take for granted.  We learn not to judge and feel kinder towards ourselves. As we are focused at this moment, we can’t ignore what’s in front of us and accept our experience with willingness. This acceptance of the current moment with kindness and without judgment has a profound healing effect on our lives.

Healing that comes with mindfulness also allows us to respond to life with different possibilities, instead of reacting with our habitual ways. Consequently, we experience a different outcome and a more joyful life!

Turning off the auto pilot mode is not difficult. Just work on breaking your routines. Next time you are driving home, change your route, go out and do things you’ve not done before, try new tastes, use a different toothpaste, and take a pause during the day for a few minutes to focus on your breathing.

With this new awareness, you will start feeling more connected to life and consciously realize that each day is not the same as the previous one and each has its own blessings!