Are we on Auto Pilot? Is it Good or Bad?

Auto Pilot, as the name suggests, is way of performing activities, where we do not have to think much or not at all, if I may say so.

A Question?

Now that you know, briefly, what Automatic Pilot mode we are talking about – Can you really put your mind to work right now to think of any such activity?

Yes, you guessed it right – Brushing your teeth or tying shoe-laces or even picking up your lunch box before leaving for work. You & we, all have conditioned our minds to perform these activities & they are no-brainer, as you can see.

So, very safely , can we re-define Auto Pilot – It is the art of mindlessly performing these daily activities, often for good reason. However, let’s take another example of daily activity – Driving a Car!

When we learnt to drive, we actually had to put our minds to automatic mode & conditioned ourselves so well. Now when we drive, we don’t pay any specific eye attention to the clutch,gear,accelerator etc. We keep our eyes on the road for a safe experience.

Here, in this case & many others that you can think of, ignoring the automatic mode could prove dangerous. It would be termed as Bad !

Coffee vending machine dispensing automatically in a cup. Representing Auto pilot mode
Image by RitaE from Pixabay

MBCT or Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy, helps us understand or recognize our “Automatic Pilot” mode. It encourages us to be aware of the ways in which we get into auto mode on a reactive basis.

The Insight

We really shouldn’t be interested in discussing about activities mentioned above but the prime emphasis that MBCT puts on, is to try to identify moments. Those moments, when our minds are not where we are or what we’re doing (but they’re somewhere else instead). The insight here is that we spend a surprising amount of our time everyday relatively unaware.

Unaware of where we are, what’s going on around us, and what we’re doing.

The Focus

The focus of our awareness is often not the result of our conscious choice . And it is not a reflection of what we really want or what might be good for us. It is just our auto-pilot kicking in and living our lives for us while we’re distracted or averted. Quite literally, as though we’re not where we are – as though we’ve been replaced in our daily life by an automation that happens to look like us.

Leaving you with a Food for Thought. More later.

If you wish, you can read more technical details about (M)indfulness (B)ased (C)ognitive (T)heory here.

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