This week I decided to focus on moving out of autopilot and start using habit releasers. This means breaking a usual habit and doing something different which can help you to feel more aware and ultimately increases your levels of happiness.
[Habit Releasers] are meant to reveal and break open some of our most unaware life patterns of thought and behaviour, patterns that unbeknownst to us, tend to imprison us in a smallness that is definitely not the full story of who we are.
– Mark Williams. Mindfulness: A Practical Guide to Finding Peace in a Frantic World
A mindful walk
Today I picked the usual journey to our parent and toddler group as a habit to change and to try a mindful walk. The group takes place at a church hall not far from us. It’s about a 15 minute walk but something always seems to get in the way of us actually going by foot. Like me trying to finish up a blog post before we get ready to go. Or Tiddler deciding he wants one more episode of Octonauts and me being too soft to say no. Or the rain / snow / cold / general cloudiness of the seemingly never-ending winter months putting us off. This means that usually Tiddler and I rush last minute and end up jumping in the car despite my plan to walk
So this week I made a conscious decision that we would walk. At least I would, Tiddler would go on his balance bike which would make life far easier.
Luckily the sun was shining though it was still cold, but that’s what gloves and hats are for. So giving ourselves enough time to get dressed in our warmest winter woollies, we set off. I made a real effort to notice things – the sky being that beautiful shade of sunny winter-blue, the sounds of the cars going by, Tiddler racing off on his bike and me shouting at him to slow down…
The walk was nice but admittedly, I spent a lot of it trying not to fuss over Tiddler – trying to keep him on the pavement, from parked cars or muddy puddles. I seemed to constantly be worrying that he’d hurt himself, get his shoes all wet or that he’d damage a neighbour’s car.
But I kept trying. I did my best to just accept the thoughts and not let them run away on a whole new train of thinking – “he’s going to fall off and hurt himself, we’ll end up in A&E for the whole day and it’ll be horrible…” and so on.
Then, magically, for just a few moments, the thoughts stopped. I really noticed Tiddler balancing on his bike without worrying, heard his gleeful chuckle as he managed to take both feet off the ground at the same time, and felt the lovely warmth of the sun shining down on us.
Those few seconds, just before my thoughts and worries started up again, were lovely. It’s what I remember from our little walk and it’s what being mindful is all about.
What are you doing this week to move out of autopilot? Tell us below!