The problem of living in autopilot “A wandering mind is an bored and unhappy mind.” Z.M. Suzuki
When we are on autopilot- doing things automatically- the mind takes over and escapes.
The routine of the day triggers the autopilot mode —making unconscious, automatic actions and decisions . At this point, our mind is in full control.
A study from UCLA on 5000 people shows that over 85% of them admitted living on autopilot.
In autopilot there is a split between body acting like a robot and mind being a monkey
We make about 100,000 though and gestures each day. Our brain can’t possibly take the time to consider every single thing we do. Imagine if you had to remember everything you do and think in the day.
So, whenever it can, your brain will kick into an automatic decision-making gear to save energy, freeing up your conscious mind to escape and wander in different spaces/times. Our ability to think about what’s not happening at the routine present moment makes life easier. It is a gateway.
However, This automatic mode creates all kind of thoughts and emotions not necessarily useful.
They can be also detrimental.
A study done by two Harvard University psychologists revealed that the average person spends about 85% of their waking hours doing what they call “mind wandering.”
Mind wandering is when you do something somewhere while the mind is elsewhere doing something else. When people let their minds wander, whether it’s thinking about events from the past, present or future, it makes them unhappy.
The problem with living on autopilot is that it can leave us
“day sleepwalking “as Zen says making it difficult to make intentional and rational decisions.
So what exactly does living on autopilot look like I can describe it with the following examples:
You’ve just driven home and stepped out of your car, you don’t remember stopping at any lights, switching any lanes, making that right-hand turn or even our thoughts. The drive was a blur, yet you arrived home safe.
As you wake up, we are bored already of the day ahead because your daily routine is predictable.
Your decisions and actions have become so automatic that they take little if not no thought at all.
You are holding your cell phone with 2 hands most of the day checking useless stuff.
You’re not fully present in the moment we don’t remember details of our routine activities
If most of these signs resonate with you, there’s a probability that you are, most of the time, living on autopilot like most of us.
What Zen is telling us?
You just have to turn off the cruise control and bring back your mind back with your body’s current activities.
Paying attention to what you are doing results in better conscious decision-making.
Interestingly enough, psychometric research has shown that we are happier when our thoughts and activities are synchronized and not in dualistic mode.
Zen found this evidence more than 2,000 years ago while teaching to bring the mind where the body is and what it is doing, hat is a mindfulness moment and this is what meditation is based on and teaching us.