At Modo Yoga Waterloo, we teach a sequence of movements that we fall back on while teaching, with a bit of variability depending on who is leading the class.
Sometimes these movements can seem repetitive or “boring” and it’s easy to default to autopilot.
At the studio, we encourage students to take this feeling of boredom as a sign that they should deepen their awareness and really lean into the experience of the moment.
When we find our minds drifting off while our body finishes the tasks they’ve performed numerous times, we miss out on valuable opportunities for mindfulness.
Consider digging a well: you could try digging 1000 holes that are only 1 foot deep each, or you could use that effort to dig 1 hole that is 1000 feet deep. Going deep is going to get you closer to what you are looking for.
Each time you mindfully bring new energy into the same tasks or experiences, you’re assigning deeper meaning to whatever it may be.
Here are some simple ways you can deepen your awareness and create healthy habits INSTEAD of switching into autopilot.
Every day, we build mental and physical shortcuts to use each time we attempt certain repetitive tasks. And while this is an AMAZING thing our bodies can do for us, it’s also easy to fall into autopilot and perpetuate habits that don’t always serve us.
How often do you do things like rush out the door to walk your dog instead of taking time to be present, pay attention, and really enjoy the way animals react to different sounds and smells?
Do you wolf down your breakfast before hurrying to work or do you take a few minutes to really taste your food (see this post for mindfulness and eating).
In a similar practice to Frank Jude Boccio’s Bells of Mindfulness, paying attention to what happens on autopilot (and bringing deeper meaning into those things) is a way to switch our perspectives on simple or mundane tasks.
Make A Small Change
When you notice yourself falling into old patterns and switching into autopilot, try making one small change to your routine.
I always go on a very similar walk but, every once in a while, I stop halfway and walk the other direction. I’m always amazed at what I discover! Next time you’re on your way to work or off on your morning job, try using a different route.
One of my favorite teachers, Pema Chodron, recently cited that 85% of people on the highway are moving on autopilot. YIKES! Simple tweaks to your everyday routine (like taking a different turn or using a different road) can break the autopilot cycle.
Keep An Open Mind
When we try new things, it’s natural for us to feel nervous at first. But don’t let those initial jitters keep you from experiencing the fun of what you’re trying!
I know from personal experience that putting myself outside of my comfort zone can make me feel vulnerable (check out my Instagram for some crazy stories!) When this happens, take a deep breath, remind yourself to be thankful, and start something new with a positive mindset. You’ve got this!
Next time you find yourself absentmindedly doing anything, try these steps to be more present and let me know how it goes!