Have you realized we live most of our lives on auto-pilot? How many people remember if they washed their faces or not this morning? Or how they walked/drove/commuted to work? We probably did all of them, being on auto-pilot, but without any awareness. Unless there is an unpleasant experience, we could go on default mode all day. Without one drop of consciousness; we could go to work and come back home, chat with people and watch the news, cook and wash the dishes. This is our lovely brain’s gift to us.
Days, months, and years pass like this and one day we realize we never enjoy life, haven’t accomplished our dreams, and in fact have led a very mundane life. Worse yet, we may not realize this until the end of our lives. Most don’t. Realizing is just the beginning. And solution is not so far away.
The closest and the most permanent solution is mindfulness. Being fully aware of what is going on each moment. Not what might happen, not what has happened, just what is going on right now. If you are breathing, breathe, eating, eat, waiting for a bus, you got the point. Be one with that moment and discover it again and again. While on auto-pilot we can’t do that. And the difference is huge.
One of the teachers in the mindfulness course I am taking said this: “Focus on what is, rather than what if.” It is very memorable and effective.
The effects of mindfulness are scientifically proven, too. The best known effects are increasing performance and productivity. There is, for example, a study on university students mindfully washing dishes and enjoying it. It’s a chore many, including me, hate to do, but being aware of the moment beautifies it.
I think one of the most important effects of being mindful and taking control again is on talking and listening. This is the most difficult for me as I like talking and sometimes I realize I talk nonsense, and just chatter; only to realize afterwards. I noticed while I am not very talkative in groups, when there is the famous awkward silence, I throw a few words in. I can’t handle the silence. I also interrupt sometimes if I get impatient. What experts suggest here is to remember to breathe. When the person before you finishes speaking, take a moment to breathe. It doesn’t last a second or two, but you reset the auto-pilot and take control. So you don’t interrupt and say useless things. Although I have a long way to go in order to achieve it, I believe one day I will get there.
Just being aware is enough most of the time.