What do I feel when living on autopilot?
Contributed by Isabel Hernández Negrín from Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain.
Living distracted is like living on autopilot. Let’s look at how many things we do while we are thinking about something else: we wake up in the morning, we get ready, have breakfast, work at home, we walk, we drive, partly between work, we have lunch, wash the dishes, watch TV absent-mindedly, we talk, have dinner and we go to bed.
All these ordinary activities we usually do while we are thinking completely or partly about something else. All day long!
What happens as a result of living like this?
Physical agitation, anxiety, fatigue, superficial communication, irritation, feeling of senselessness, impulsiveness, and so many more things.
We live it all in a very superficial way, in a hurry, because we always have on our minds the next thing that we have to do instead of the one we are doing.
As a consequence of this, we have to look for outlets for the tension that has accumulated and each one has his own. For example, dreaming of a vacation, connecting compulsively, buying without the need, being in pursuit of other quick pleasures like alcohol, drugs or sex.
We have an impulse that takes us away from the discomfort and to seek pleasure, to feel good.
When we live distracted we feel bad and, then, to compensate it, we do other things (if we can) to feel better.
In other words, we live skipping from pain to pleasure like in a pendulum.
That pendulum does not make us feel very good either and leaves us with a certain bitter taste of the life that we lead. We live in the doing and move away from the being.
Maybe some even read these words looking for a little pleasure, that will remain this way if they do not do anything different with their lives.
Can we get out of this pendulum? Well yes, of course. All you need is a clear conviction that the pendulum is not right for you and then learn to figure out, to realize, that you enter into the automatic, distracted mode.
Once you succeed in realizing it, don’t do anything, just feel your body, your breath, as if it were the only thing in the world, observe these feelings curiously and be nice to yourself, because you do not have to reach anywhere, just be with yourself, do not forget about yourself in that daily race. Try it many times before thinking that this is ridiculous. Don’t be bothered if you think you are doing something “odd”, just do it and repeat it in your everyday life. Perhaps you discover that you can live in a different way, moving further and further away from the automatic mode. When you wake up, feel your body. When you take a shower, feel the sensations. When you eat, pay attention to the taste. When you walk, feel your body, your feet and your breath. When you are in the queue at a supermarket, notice if you become impatient, feel it and let it pass. The intention and the attention are like a switch that will make you move from one mood to the other.
It is certainly a good transformational start! Use the switch, it’s in your hand!