Do you ever notice how your thoughts or actions can fall into familiar and repetitive patterns? One way of describing this is to talk of autopilot – it’s as if we are going through life with a pre-set course, not really being fully alert to what is around us or the choices we have. It might be you notice yourself always reacting to things in a familiar way rather than taking a moment to stop and choose how to respond. We can fall into autopilot ways of behaviour with partners and friends – no longer hearing them afresh in the moment but hearing what we are used to hearing and getting stuck in familiar loops.
Mindfulness practice offers the chance to step out of this autopilot mode. It reminds us to look afresh at each moment. To ask if we want to go down the old familiar street on our walk to the park or destination or take a different route and explore an unknown street. When I was teaching this as part of an 8 week course for council staff, one person described how that week they had taken a different route from the tube station to work and found a whole new way to experience their walk to work….after five years of walking the same street!
One simple way to explore autopilot in your life is to notice where you habitually sit in your home. Do you always tend to sit in the same place? At one end of the sofa rather than the other, on one chair rather than any of the other choices you may have? My mother and step father are like this. For over 20 years always sitting in the same place in the sitting room. One time when I was visiting home my mum sat where my step-father would usually sit…and she commented with surprise on how different the room looked, how from there she could see out of the window, and look along the length of the room, whereas her seat meant she looked into the room and across it.
This is only a simple thing, but by choosing to sit in a different seat this week, see what it tells you about how you might have got used to seeing your life from only one limited perspective. That by changing how you view your life you can find a whole new way of experiencing it. The video below describes this in more detail.
Thoughts are not facts
One form of autopilot is our inner self-talk. It can be very debilitating when we have an autopilot that always falls into a familiar script, especially if that is a script based on self-limiting beliefs: it’s too much, I can’t cope, no-one wants me…….Challenging these limiting self-beliefs is a central part of what we explore over the 8 week mindfulness course and a simple tool you can use is to say to yourself: “thoughts are not facts” as you notice yourself falling into familiar patterns of thinking.
If we are prone to anxiety or depression it’s easy to slip into ruminative thoughts – thoughts that circle around like a dog chasing its tail but which go nowhere and offer no solution, only spiralling down into catastrophising and worry. Recognising this and bringing in a kind inner voice with an assertive but gentle tone saying: “thoughts are not facts” is a way to step out of this and connect instead with your sense of agency and capability. You can be the person knowing your thoughts and challenging those that do not serve you rather than being at the mercy of thoughts.
The video below explores this in more detail.
8 week mindfulness course starts Wednesday 6th May
If you find these approaches of interest then you’ll enjoy the 8 weeks of the mindfulness course where we explore all of this in more detail and share together our insights and how we overcome our struggles to find a greater freedom and self awareness.
The next course starts on Wednesday 6th, 7 – 9.30pm. It will be via zoom.
There will be break out rooms where you can talk to others in pairs or a smaller group. And a virtual tea break where you’ll be with a small group where you can chat and socialise. Please email me if you would be interested in joining.
The price is £275 and if you are in financial hardship please contact me for a concession or to discuss a free place.
For more details click here
To book or find out more detail email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org