Last week I started a Mindfulness course with Bemindfulonline.com.
The first week was entitled’Stepping out of autopilot’ and the aim is to learn to stay with our experience moment by moment.
At the start of the course it was pointed out that we are often on ‘auto pilot’ which means behaving mechanically without paying attention and that got me thinking about how much of my life I am living in a whirlwind of doing, without even being aware of the experience.
I used to drive to Colchester from Ipswich for work and would often complete the journey without remembering much about the actual drive or how I got there. Then often when I park the car somewhere, I won’t remember if I have locked up or displayed a car park ticket on the windscreen, so I go back to check even though I have done both -but without realising it .
Annoyingly I am always losing my keys -my husband seems to spend a huge amount of time trawling through the house helping me look for them-because whenever I come home, I put them down without being aware of where I have put them.
It seems to me that the more we repeat tasks and have the same routines the more likely we are to be on autopilot. Eating is a good example of this. How often do we eat without attention to what we are putting in our mouths or how it tastes?
On that note, the first exercise of the course was to eat a rasin mindfully and it seemed an excrutiatingly slow experience. I was talked through the process in minute detail, starting with picking up a rasin, examining it, touching it, shaking it, putting it to my ear, smelling it etc-before finally eating it.
My homework is to choose a task I do regularly such as the washing up and to do it with great awareness, noting sensations and feelings with- (an expression I love)- ‘gentle curiosity’. In other words, there is no right or wrong in how I am feeling and no judgement.
I actually thought prior to starting the course that I might not have time to fit it into my life and to complete the tasks in a mindful manner. However so far that has not been my experience. In fact one of the tasks I have been doing is a body scan where you lie on the floor taking your awareness to different parts of the body – an exercise which apparently lasts 30 minutes but which seemed to me to last a much shorter amount of time. (I don’t think I fell asleep!)
So maybe this is helping to slow down time and give me a fresh perspective on life! I’m hopeful that I won’t be losing my keys so often this week..