Coming off autopilot

Driving these days is so different than it was when I was first learning to drive.  I am not talking about the people on the road, or the amount of traffic, or any of those things. I am talking about the consciousness with which we drive.  I know it has been a few years since I have been physically able to drive. However, I can remember a number of times I managed to drive from point A to point B and was not sure how I got there. It was as if I was driving on autopilot.  One of the features several of my friends have on their cars is cruise control. They can just set the speed at which they want to travel and the car will automatically speed up or slow down accordingly. They no longer have to think about what speed they are going. Some of the commercials for this year’s new model of cars talk about how the car will alert you when there is someone or something too close to you in the back or the front.  All of these are viewed as safety precautions to prevent us from having accidents. It dawned on me that these developments are not just about how we are driving, but also about how we are living our lives.

How many of us live our lives as if we are on cruise control or perhaps it is more like living on autopilot?  Are we moving through our lives dependent on external safety features to remind us of where we are, how fast we are going, or when someone is violating our boundaries? Or are we aware of who we are, where we are, what we believe, what we do not believe? Are we living in a state of awareness or unawareness? It is hard to change or transform your life, if you are unaware of who you are and how you are living your life. It is hard to evolve spiritually if you are not aware of how you have conformed to the ways of this world.  There is a scripture in the Christian writing Romans 12 that reads, “do not conform to the ways of this world, but be transformed in it through the renewing of your mind.”  It is hard to be transformed in this world, if we are not aware of how we have conformed to the cruise control and autopilot features of the world.

It can seem hard not to conform to the ways of this world.  If one does not conform, then there are sanctions.  Drive too fast and you will get a ticket and a fine. Break the law and you can go to jail. Love someone of the same sex or gender and you can put your life at risk. Love someone of another race or ethnicity and others may be quick to question why you are being a traitor to your race or ethnicity. We have spent much of our lives being domesticated, as don Miguel Ruiz says, to the ways of our family, community, and society. At the same time, the teachings of just about every faith tradition I am familiar with tells us to transcend beyond the teachings of the world and to live by the teachings of the Infinite Presence, the Creator, Allah, God, source of Divine Wisdom, one’s Higher Power.

Moving off of autopilot when driving means we must maintain a consciousness of how we are driving.  Are we moving too fast? Too slow? What is going on around us and how must we respond to maintain our safety and progress?  Some of us have been living our lives on autopilot for so long we no longer realize we are even doing so.  We do not have to practice living this way; we have mastered it. Living our lives off of autopilot may be difficult for some to master.  Doing so is like any new behavior, it takes time, practice, and discipline.  We must learn how to live in a present state of mindfulness.  As we learn to do so, we gain a greater clarity of who we are and our whole experience of life changes.

We go from moving through life to fully experiencing life. We go from living a path which keeps us on autopilot to a path which leads to wholeness and awareness. We move from a space where we make decisions out of stress, confusion, and fear to space where we make decisions out of love, peace, and understanding. We move from a space where we exist in a life, which seems scripted by others, to a space where we are consciously co-creating our lives with the Infinite.  Are you ready to disconnect your autopilot and begin the journey on your path to wholeness?