Autopilot thinking and responding
Welcome to my blog. I am delighted to share this first post with you.
The aim of this blog is to support and inform your mindfulness practice. Today, I am going to post about the concept of autopilot.
As we develop mindful awareness, we discover how much time we spend in the autopilot mind state. Autopilot is when the mind is thinking and wandering about on its own – reminiscing about, or regretting, the past or planning for, or worrying about, the future. Autopilot isn’t bad (or good) it is just the way the mind works. However as we spend more time being mindful, we discover that autopilot drives our thinking patterns, our emotional responses and – often – our behaviors. We also discover that autopilot thinking and responding usually isn’t very helpful. A good example is worry. A certain amount of worry can be beneficial and may result in our finding solutions to problems. However, we often get stuck in “worry ruts” when our mind keeps going over and over the same thing. This usually isn’t helpful at all in terms of finding solutions. Not only is it not helpful – it can cause insomnia, irritability and anxiety. None of us like to worry – it just feels icky.
The solution to autopilot is mindful awareness. By moving out of autopilot mode and into mindfulness – we can move out our habitual thinking ruts. From a viewpoint of mindful awareness – we can see our thinking patterns for what they are – just the firing of neurons. Sometimes we call it monkey mind – it’s up there in our heads chattering away – often about nothing. By seeing that our thoughts are often just like a monkey prattling – we find they become much less powerful and compelling. We see that we don’t have to get carried away with them. We can simply watch them come and go.
My hope is that this blog can support your practice by serving as a virtual mindfulness community. Please leave comments about your experience with autopilot – or anything about mindfulness.