Being on auto pilot all the time
Airplanes have an autopilot mode allowing pilots to consciously not control the plane. Plane flies by itself. Wonderful for the pilots since they can do other things more exiting.
We, humans, have also an autopilot mode. In fact, we are, most of the day, on autopilot mode as soon as we wake up and til we fall asleep.
Being on autopilot means to do things automatically, without thinking too much about what we are doing.
The problem is that when our mind is not focusing on what we do, he is free to do whatever he wants a a different space-time.
Because what we are doing during the day is mostly routine stuff and therefore been perceived as boring, being on autopilot mode is an escape from being focused on these dull and tedious stuff. This is the only good news about being on autopilot. Imagine to be forced to be conscious, to pay attention all the time to everything you are doing every minute or to your incessant moving body or ongoing thoughts.
Zen has another view regarding being on autopilot and it is not a positive one.
It is called “Sleeping zombie” or “Day sleep walking”.
The word “sleep” has 2 meanings:
Not paying attention to the current space-time, present moment, its environment and what we are doing.
Having our mind in a different space-time (past or mostly future) and doing something else.
Therefore, not paying too much attention to what we are doing NOW means being totally under the control of our wandering mind. The problem of being on autopilot is to be trapped into 2 ways:
1- We spend most of our life in “doing mode” rather than “being mode”, missing what the current moment
may bring to us such as the present, concrete reality and its content.
2- We are prisoner all day long in our unstoppable 100,000 thoughts and feelings created by our restless mind and most of the time useless.
In fact, we become schizophrenic with a double personality: one being is what our body is currently doing and the other being is where our mind is and what he is doing.
Thoughts, especially negative ones, have tremendous impacts on our emotions, especially when we believe that our thoughts are true and we do. All you notice is that suddenly, you become angry, upset, anxious, fearful, etc.
A subconscious thought gave birth to an emotion.
When we are on autopilot — not too much conscious of what we are doing–, the mind has free will to do and go whatever he wants. We are trapped in this inner movie theater. This is our usual day-by-day scenario.
On the opposite, when we are not in autopilot— being mindful / paying attention to the current moment and what we are doing —the mind has no choice but to follow your body. We are not trapped anymore inside our self-generated movie.
This is the basic behind these weird and spooky Zen sayings:
“ When you eat, just eat”, “ When you walk, just walk”
By bringing our mind in the current space-time, present moment and environment and on what our body is doing, we become authentic “beings” rather than “automatic doers’.
Always pull your monkey mind out from his dream world to the present reality the current moment.
This is what “awakening” or “enlightenment” mean.
Is it fun to pay attention to your teeth being brushed?
No it is not, but that’s not the point. Your mind is telling you it is not fun because he does not want to be told what to do and prefers to fly away in different more exiting space-times.