When we slip into autopilot (47% of the time) our attention is absorbed in our wandering minds and we are not really ‘present’ in our own lives. On autopilot we tend to get lost in ‘doing’ so we find ourselves constantly striving and struggling and ‘getting stuff done’ instead of really living. We also become vulnerable to anxiety, stress, depression and reactivity. Research shows, in fact, that the more our minds wander, the less happy we are.
Mindfulness is the opposite of mindlessness. It means waking up out of autopilot and ‘taking the steering wheel’ of our attention again. We practice mindfulness by maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations and the surrounding environment. Mindfulness also involves non-judgment, meaning that we pay attention to our thoughts and feelings with the attitude of an impartial witness — without believing them or taking them personally.