Turn Your Autopilot Off Once A Day
So winter has started baring its icicle fangs here in Northern Virginia.
The temperature is dropping and the cold air is very noticeable. Lately, I have been extremely busy inside my little office in Fairfax City, seeing counseling client and completing endless amounts of paperwork, almost on autopilot throughout the monotonous process.
Lately, I have found myself on autopilot during the week, have you ever felt that way? I’m in my car driving to my therapy office and before I know it, I’m in my car driving home. Not to mention the fact with daylight savings time ending, sometimes I find myself driving in the dark whenever I’m driving to and from my Fairfax office.
However, today I decided to make a change. After a few sessions, I found myself with a long break in my workday. Instead of tackling paperwork or some other business aspect of my psychotherapy practice, I decided to take myself off automatic pilot. I put on my winter jacket and braved the cold and went for a walk around Old Town Fairfax.
I put on my winter jacket and braved the cold and went for a walk around Old Town Fairfax. For some company, I loaded up Joseph Campbell on my Audible.com app on my phone and headed out. As I slowly ambled down the sidewalk, I found myself more aware of my surroundings than ever before. These surroundings were not new to me. I have driven through these same neighborhoods but this was the first time I really paid attention, I was fully centered, living in the moment. I've always been on autopilot.
I believe we all need to do this at some point during our workday. We all lead such busy, stressful lives that we get bogged down in the minutiae of our various daily anxieties. Every single day, we need to carve out some time to center ourselves and stay focused on only the present moment. To stop living on autopilot.
In Buddhism, this practice is known as mindfulness and it is currently all the rage in the counseling world (see my earlier book review on Buddha’s Brain). It is such a simple exercise, one that every self-aware human being is capable of doing and it requires no special training or tools (although I will say the quieter your surrounds, the easier it is to focus).
All it requires is for you to stay present, notice your surroundings, observe your breathing, walk slowly and deliberately.
And most importantly, as your mind centers itself… feel your body relax.