Disengaging from Automatic Pilot

 

Human beings are able to commit complex tasks (such as driving) to the unconscious and operate very efficiently on automatic-pilot. This is a very useful attribute when it comes to carrying out every-day tasks proficiently. However, it can backfire. We not only commit positive and practical strategies to the realms of the unconscious but negative strategies too.Hazards-of-Autopilot-1200

The process of committing a psychological strategy to the unconscious and operating on automatic pilot is called habituation. We develop both BAD HABITS and GOOD HABITS. The good habits don’t warrant change, but the bad ones can result in a host of potentially damaging health risks. By definition, unconscious strategies (habits) go under the radar, escaping our conscious awareness. They will continue indefinitely if we don’t make a conscious decision to change them.  

Most disorders (phobias, stress, anxiety, etc.) are caused by entering the virtual reality of our minds and unequivocally accepting it as reality (the truth). Instead of identifying with our thoughts in this way, mindfulness helps us to de-personalise them and take an objective stance. The practice is somewhat of a paradox: we distance ourselves from our thoughts by paying attention to them!  The key, however, is to observe them without judgement i.e. categorising them good and bad, right or wrong.

When we lift the shroud of thoughts that veils our view of reality, we see the world as it truly is. Experiencing the world without the bias and distortion of our mind, quite magically, causes our problems to disappear. This is because our problems are primarily caused by stinking thinking. Our problem is not life itself, but our perspective of life.

 

Men are disturbed not by things, but by the view which they take of them

Epictetus

 

The skill of mindfulness is cultivated through allocating time to meditate; meditating on the present moment with an attitude of non-judgemental acceptance. With practice, the individual learns to disengage from automatic pilot and enter the world of sensory experience. In this state, we live life consciously and deliberately.

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