23 September 2018

Turning Off The Autopilot

Summer is over, most people are back from holiday and work is gathering momentum again. My schedule over the next few weeks is already full to the rafters and it seems there’s no end in sight. I have three important projects on the go at once at the minute. My days are shaped by coaching sessions, delivering workshops and having endless calls, video conferences and meetings, not to mention all computer-based work and the travelling about.

I love what I do, however I run the risk of getting so absorbed in what I do that I end up forgetting everything around me before the day is done. My desire to keep myself in energetic balance is difficult to maintain this way.

Yesterday I got to a point where my head was spinning and, after one call in particular, I felt as breathless as if I’d done a 100m sprint.

I had a friend round for dinner and was so glad she had a lot of stories to share as I simply had such little energy left to speak. Nodding, giving some “ahhs” of agreement and some casual “really?” type remarks was as much as I could contribute.

My head was at once empty and spinning. Do you know that feeling? I was physically present, but there in the background my hyperactive mind was whirring away.

Suddenly the things which I had forgotten to accomplish during the day popped into my mind along with a slight feeling of panic. I was already planning the next day, my mental to-do-list growing longer and longer. When I finally got to bed and grabbed the book I was reading at the time, I was forced to surrender myself to sleep after just five minutes, realizing that I hadn’t actually read a single word. My head was still busy writing it’s to-do list. Finally, I fell asleep.

I woke up at 5:45 am. In that very instant my mind was flicked on once again. My eyes still closed, my fingers were searching for my mobile phone to… well, to what exactly? I realized the extent to which I was on autopilot.

As I lay there, looking out of the window, I decided that I wanted to start my day differently today.

It was still dark and I saw the stars sparkling away. The sky was cloudless. Twenty minutes later I left my house in my hiking gear, all set to go with a bottle of water and some tea in my backpack. Despite living in the middle of the mountains, I hadn’t been hiking for a while. It was 6:15 am now and my first telephone conference of the day would start at 9:30 am, giving me a good three hours with which to hike around my mountainous stomping ground. I was really excited.

The darkness of the night switched to morning twilight. It was that moment before everything and everybody wakes up, all was still silent. It took me five minutes to arrive at the foot of my home mountain and then the gradient increased. After about fifteen minutes I realized that my mind had blanked again. I was walking without paying any attention to my surroundings and I was again busy with reciting my daily to-do list in my head.

I stopped and took a couple of deep breaths. I concentrated on my senses.

The air was warm and humid, I smelled freshly cut grass on the breeze and I smelled the wet soil of the forest. I closed my eyes and listened. A singing bird to my right, the rustling of leaves to my left. I also heard a car somewhere. I continued to walk. I concentrated on my eyes for now, on what I was seeing. From all senses seeing is the biggest challenge for me.

Often my eyes look at something but I don’t necessarily properly see what I am looking at. In these moments I’m often instead inside my own head, doing my to-do lists or other things which my mind considers to be more important.

In these moments I don’t see, I’m not present, I run on autopilot. At this very moment, however, I concentrated on really seeing my surroundings; the colorful leaves, the different natural patterns of the ground, a butterfly on a blade of grass, the signposts on the path. I had to cross a meadow which was engulfed in a low-lying fog that created a quite mystical atmosphere - somewhere, slowly but surely, the sun was working its way up. I could already see its golden glow on the crest of the horizon.

And then there she was, rising from behind the mountains, the first rays of sun lit upon the trees and meadows. It was so beautiful.

I knew that there was a great viewpoint a couple more minutes up the hill so I walked a bit quicker. The light changed with as the sun rose a little higher every minute, it was just wonderful to see nature awakening. I arrived at my favorite spot just as the sun started to illuminate everything around. I just sat there, doing nothing, listening to the silence. I was breathing the fresh air and observing the sun rise. There was nothing more beautiful and nothing more peaceful in that moment.

There was nothing else I needed. Everything felt perfect. Even the little voices in my mind were put to sleep. Just stillness.

I guess I sat there for a good thirty minutes. I was totally present, awake, relaxed and happy. I had a big smile on my face.

When I arrived back home just in time for my call at 9:30, my mind was refreshed and calm, my mood was excellent. I felt grounded and in balance again, so different to when I woke up this morning. What a great way to start the day.

What makes a great start into the day for you? Share with me on Facebook or LinkedIn, or send me an email at I'd love to hear from you.

Let's inspire each other, let's nourish our energies.

Speak soon,