Mostly, we go about our day on autopilot. It makes sense that we do not consciously have to decide moment-by-moment, what next. We just do what we do. Every day, we get up, get dressed, brush our teeth, wash our faces, get our kids off to school, go to work, eat, drive, and so on without thinking about what we are doing.
This is not a bad thing. Imagine the effort we would expend to consciously and repeatedly make the same decisions and navigate the same minutia of the same activities day after day. Perhaps exhausting.
On the other hand, when on autopilot we cannot savor what is right here, right now for us; we are not fully present and alive. We might be missing feeling the joy of even the simplest activity. Or, we might be missing something that some part of us might be trying to tell or show us.
What? you might be asking. Who cares! And, you might also be sensing some budding curiosity in discovering what might come forward by spending a little time with something that doesn’t seem to need any attention at all.
How about bringing your full attention to some routine activity: Brushing your teeth, drinking a coffee or eating a doughnut or bowl of cereal, getting dressed, or driving to work?
Exploring bringing your awareness to something simple that we all do, like brushing our teeth, is a good place to start. Let’s do it.
Notice how you pick up the brush, apply the toothpaste, and turn on the water. Really pay attention as you hold the brush. Be aware of which hand and kind of grip you use. Sense how it feels to hold the brush. Now, squeeze the toothpaste onto the brush. What do you see? How would you describe the toothpaste going onto to the brush? And, the water? What do you notice?
Now bring your attention to brushing your teeth. Notice your stroke. Maybe you go up-and-down, side-to-side, round-and-round or some other combination of moves. Sense what it feels like as the brush contacts the the teeth and gums. Notice the texture of the toothpaste mixing with your saliva and how it tastes. What’s your tongue doing? Do you swallow? Tune into how it feels inside, in your body. Be aware of looking in the mirror and how that is. Notice when you decide to stop brushing and how that feels.
Be aware of how you finish up. Perhaps you rinse your mouth, or not. Notice each step you take to clean and put away the brush. Notice your hands and how they feel as you do this.
Perhaps take a moment now and reflect. How was this different from brushing on autopilot? You might be surprised. Welcome whatever comes to you.
Perhaps your senses of taste, sight, touch, hearing, and smell have woken up. How was that? Maybe you noticed something you enjoyed or something that felt unpleasant. Take a few moments to describe what has come for you.
If something pleasurable is there, take your time and let it be there as fully as it wants to be. Now sense how that feels inside, in your body, having done that.
Perhaps it has brought forward something that is wanting your attention, something that doesn’t feel quite right, stuck, painful, or out-of-place. It might have come as a feeling, a memory, an image, or a story. Check that out and see if something like that is there for you. If it is, you might say hello to it and let it know that you are willing to come back to it and spend time with it. Now notice how doing that feels inside.
This is it. Even the simplest, most routine and mundane activity is alive for us when we pay attention. And, by paying attention what springs forward may be pleasant and flowing and/or open us to something in us that given our compassionate attention and active listening moves us forward in our lives with just rightness.