Have you ever noticed that when you are doing familiar or repetitive tasks, like driving a car or cleaning, that your mind is often miles away thinking about something else? You may be thinking about work, bills, an upcoming vacation or event or simply daydreaming.
Whatever the case you are not focusing on your current experience, and you are not really in touch with the” here and “. This way of operating is often referred to as automatic pilot mode.
Mindfulness is the opposite of automatic pilot mode. It is about experiencing the world that is firmly in the “here and now”. This mode is referred to as the being mode. It offers a way of freeing oneself from automatic and unhelpful ways of thinking and responding.
By learning to be in mindful mode more often, it is possible to develop a new habit that helps to weaken old, unhelpful and automatic thinking habits. For people with emotional problems and anxiety issues, these old habits can involve being overly pre-occupied with thinking about the future, the past, themselves, or their emotions in a negative way. Mindfulness in this case does not aim to immediately control, remove, or fix this unpleasant experience but rather it aims to develop a skill to place you in a better position to break free of or not buy into those old unhelpful habits that are causing distress and preventing positive action.
One simple Five-step Mindfulness Exercise example:
Focus on the world around you. At this moment, what are
5 Things you see
4 things you hear
3 Things you can touch
2 Things you can smell
1 Thing you can taste
Kelli Louden, LCSW