Welcome to Week One of Reset Button's Online Mindfulness Course.
Week One: Waking Up The Autopilot
Have you ever been in the situation where you've turned on your computer to send an email, only to realise an hour later you have sent a dozen others and looked at Facebook but not sent the original email at all?
Or driven for miles without realising you have been driving home instead of to the supermarket?
We, as humans, have a tendency to operate on automatic pilot.
Recognising this is the first step towards being mindful. On becoming aware of it, we give ourselves the opportunity to decide how to act. Rather than mindlessly being dragged around by our thoughts and feelings, we can choose actions that will lead us towards the life that we want.
Our thoughts are very powerful and can take us to places we never intended.
But how much of our lives are we missing by not paying attention to where we are in the present moment?
This week we are teaching you to recognise when you are on autopilot, and giving you a powerful practice that will put you back in the driving seat.
Wake up! And you can double your life expectancy!
Autopilot may be inconvenient, but it’s not a mistake. Even though it can let us down at unexpected moments, it remains one of humanity’s greatest assets. It allows us to be able to carry out complicated processes without having to concentrate on them. Even at it’s most basic level the autopilot means that we can carry out several things at once. For example, eating; if we had to think each time we ate, ‘which utensil do I use? How do I cut? How do I chew?’, then not only would it take us a very long time to eat, but we wouldn’t be able to do anything else like say, socialise, at the same time.
The problem with autopilot mode is it doesn't give you the chance to stop and think about what it is you are doing, and whether it's what you really want to do. We have competing wants and desires at all times, and when in autopilot we may follow a less desirable action, guided by our emotions, thoughts or physical wants.
For example, you feel hungry and you go to eat without even stopping to think whether that’s what you actually want to do right now. You might put others’ needs before yours because that’s what you always do. Or, something you see might trigger such a painful memory that you become lost in it and miss out on the reality that right now, you are okay. As the years pass, allowing autopilot to keep going can be problematic; losing track of what is driving you through your life as you move blindly from habit to habit.
Through this Mindfulness course you will learn how to wake up. You will learn to become aware of what thoughts, feelings and impulses are driving your behaviour. This will allow you to respond to situations with more freedom, instead of responding automatically.
…And how to double your life expectancy? By spending more time in the present moment and actually experiencing more of your life, you will begin to notice a feeling of time being created rather than lost. This is a point well worth remembering when you are struggling to find time to meditate.
Week One's Audio Session (16 minutes)
This introduction includes a short mindfulness meditation for which you will need a raisin or other small dried fruit.
Please find a nice quiet place where you can listen to this uninterrupted. Relax and enjoy, as this is something you are doing for yourself.
Practices for Week One
Sitting Meditation (9 minutes)
This is your meditation practice for week one.
Remember that the most important part of this course is your daily practice. So make sure that you have your space and time marked out and a kind and gentle attitude towards yourself.
Practice this meditation twice a day for minimum six out of the next seven days.
If you find you are struggling with any part of these mediations, please let us know using the forum. CLICK HERE TO GO TO FORUM
When we're acting on autopilot we can miss out on large chunks of our life by just not being aware. Recently one of our guests at Reset Button told us how she'd shaved her legs in the morning only to look down with horror later in the day to find one very hairy leg - she realised that her autopilot was so strong she hadn't realised that she had shaved the same leg twice.
Each week as part of the course you will practice a 'Habit Reset'. We'll choose a different routine activity for you to do more mindfully.
A routine activity is something that you do every day, for example, cleaning your teeth, making coffee or tea, having a shower.
This week we'd like you to clean your teeth mindfully.
This means we want you to use all of your senses and turn on the curious alien mind that you used when doing the raisin activity.
Try to notice the sensations of the toothbrush on your teeth and gums, the different tastes in your mouth and how these change, temperature, sounds and smells. Notice how the experience feels each time. And remember that when your mind pulls you away, all you need to do is notice where it has gone and gently but firmly bring your attention back to what you're doing.
When we pay attention to how we are when we carry out routine activities, we reveal patterns of behaviour and ways of reacting automatically that aren’t always helpful. For example, we might notice that we are constantly rushing, or that there is tension in our bodies, or whether we are relaxed or stressed. When we mindlessly move from habit to habit in this way we can often build up a lot of accumulated stress. By paying more attention and being more fully present, we can begin to let go and start to fully experience the simple things in life in more healthy ways.
Want to share your experience? Use #habitreset on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter and share your pictures or feelings. Let us know any thoughts or questions on our forum. CLICK HERE TO GO TO FORUM
Each week we will be providing some additional materials from mindfulness experts that we respect and find inspirational. These are not essential but we strongly recommend that you take a look when you can.
Life is Right Now – Jon Kabat-Zinn on Mindfulness
A great introduction to the benefits and science behind mindfulness from on of the MBSR programme founders and ‘godfather’ of mindfulness.
All It Takes is 10 Mindful Minutes
A useful and entertaining Ted Talk by a surprising monk who explains exactly what mindfulness is and how to practice it in 10minutes.
Are You Operating On Autopilot?
Answer YES or NO to the following questions:
Do you find yourself using a lot of 'shoulds' about your own behaviour or that of others?
Do you feel the need to fix or solve when you have an emotional difficulty?
Do you tend to walk quickly without paying much attention to what's around you?
Do you automatically consume food or drinks without really asking yourself if you really wanted them?
Do you focus on goals without thinking about why it is you want to achieve them?
Do you find yourself preoccupied with the future or the past and not being present with what you are experiencing?
Do you rush through activities keen to complete them so you can get on with the next thing?
Do you struggle to focus on what's in front of you?
When the answer is 'YES' to any of these questions then this is when you are in automatic pilot.
During this course we will be learn to come off the automatic pilot in a conscious way, therefore becoming more present in the lives that are ours to live rather than the lives we think we should be living.
In Your Journal
Each week recommend that you reflect on some specific aspect of the practices or of your life in general.
This journal is just for you and won’t be shared unless you want to do so.
Reflection is an extremely important part of learning especially with regards to the type of mind training and change that we are hoping to create by practising mindfulness. It helps us to internalise and absorb what we have learnt.
By reflecting we often reveal a new learning or perhaps an even more helpful way of looking at things especially in the face of difficulty. Below is a link to a journal document for you to download and either print or keep on your computer to fill in each week. You can alternatively get yourself a nice notebook and just answer the questions provided each week yourself in your notebook.
Download the journal here.
Write down five things that you have noticed this week.
Write down a moment that you dealt with differently to how you normally would.
Write down a time you realised you were working on autopilot.
Name one thing this week that you felt good about.
What do you feel most grateful for this week?
REMEMBER: Q&A FORUM FOR WEEK 1 - WE WILL CHECK IN AT TIMES THROUGHOUT THE WEEK AND REPLY TO YOUR QUESTIONS. CLICK HERE TO GO TO FORUM