How to Program Your Autopilot

How to Program Your Autopilot

Thinking is harder than you think.

If you’ve ever spent a day stretching your mind and running new thoughts, then you might have a hint as to what I mean. It’s exhausting in a different way from exercising your body.

But like physical exercise, working beyond your limits is a great way to remove them.

When you grow your mind like this, it takes a lot of energy. Food, water and sleep are (usually) essential. I say usually, because everyone responds differently. I tend to sleep less and eat a lot more after intensive thinking.

It takes a solid chunk of self-care, too. When you’re outside your normal thought patterns, old memories and buried emotions can surface. This is a good sign – a sign of growth. Even so, your mind can have growing pains just as your body does.

But what makes this the case?

Our brains evolved for adaptability. Shouldn’t our minds thrive with new thinking?

Well, they do. But thinking our usual thoughts is always easier than thinking new ones.

You can imagine someone born into a hunter-gatherer tribe. As a child, they had to learn a lot. In fact, they had to learn everything.

The entire world was new to them.

As they grew into adulthood, their models of the world stabilised. Sure, there were always changes. Night is different from day; summer is different from winter. New tribes out there and new members in their own tribe shifted the political balances.

These shifts, though, were within tight parameters. They were tweaks to the world, not reinventions of it.

This is why habits work. Yes, even in today’s world where “change is happening faster than ever before.” Habits save you time and energy by responding in predictable ways.

By the time you’re a teenager, let alone an adult, you have a complex web of habits. It takes focus and willpower to break these routines. Even in your own mind, certain thoughts trigger specific reactions.

Change takes more effort than remaining the same. After all, your brain assumes that most things won’t change. Fish won’t replace birds in the sky and rocks won’t turn into ice cream.

Your habits keep your life stable.

But sometimes that’s not what you want.

Sometimes that’s not what you need.

In that strange state of mind that meditation and hypnosis create – the trance state – your mind is open to new possibilities. Your conscious mind likes to lock things down and keep them stable. It likes following habits, routines and procedures.

Your unconscious mind, though, seeks meaning out of chaos.

It likes to change.

It’s happy to think new thoughts.

Yes, it still takes energy to think these. And it takes even more to decide whether these new thoughts are worth thinking…

But meditation is like switching off your habits. Your mind is free to think in new ways, develop new habits and discard the old ones.

It’s nature’s way of changing your mind.

Meditation clears old habits, allowing you to construct new ones in their place. It’s kind of a two-step process.

Self-hypnosis does it all in one, smooth motion. You delve into your unconscious mind – the part of you that changes first – and swaps out obsolete habits.

It brings conscious control to an unconscious process.

And you can learn everything from trance to transformation:

Photo by Caleb Woods on Unsplash

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