The Character Movement

Allison taking a hike and practicing mindfulness.

The benefits of moving from autopilot to mindfulness

What is your autopilot?

It may look like getting your kids up and fed and ready for school while eating the leftovers from their plates, calling it “breakfast,” then rushing out the door and speeding to work while worrying about whether or not you are going to be late for your 8 a.m. meeting.

It may look like showing up to an appointment having no recollection of driving there because you were preoccupied with thinking, “I have so much to do.”

My autopilot was committing to things, doing them in the least amount of time possible and then committing to new things the moment I had a second to spare. I made coffee my fuel and convinced myself that sleep was overrated. I spent my time doing; this was my autopilot.

Weeks, months, years flew by. I became lost in a whirlwind of doing and completely ignored my own being. In my cyclical pattern of doing, doing, doing, I faded. I treated myself harshly and dug roots in over analyzing the past and worrying about the future. My being had no roots. What did it feel like to be overcommitted, overly analytical, worried? What did it feel like to not be those things? I didn’t know the answer to those questions. I hadn’t been mindful of my feelings or my being.

Allison practicing mindfulness by petting her dog.Mindfulness is the opposite of autopilot. It is awareness, it is a few deep breaths, it is being in the present moment. To be mindful is to let go of the past and to stop worrying about the future, if only for a brief moment. Mindfulness is slowing down. It is pausing to notice how much joy a scratch on the back brings your dog. It is noticing the feeling of your feet on the floor while standing in line at the grocery store. These moments of pause, of being present, are steps towards growing your ability to stay mindful when your dog runs away or your child is having a meltdown on the same grocery store floor your feet are standing on. It is calmness in a moment of panic; it is patience in a fit of fury.

Mindfulness is not a cure-all. It will not guard you from life’s perils or suddenly change your attitude. It is small moments, every day, where you pause, turn off your autopilot and notice your world. Mindfulness will not change the things in your life; it will change your life by helping you notice the things in it with a new perspective.

How can you move from autopilot to mindfulness today?

Written by Allison Kieley, Youth Frontiers’ Special Events Coordinator. 

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