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Autopilot vs. conscious mind

I've been meaning to post about something really annoying since I first noticed it, and only got around to it now. Of course, the day I decide to post about it is the day I figured out why it was happening.

What is annoying is that sometimes when I walk, my legs hurt within a few minutes, and other times they don't. More than that, it seemed to have no rhyme or reason. It wasn't my pace, either. Sure, my legs would hurt when I was walking fast, but not every time I would walk fast. On several occasions I was walking three or four times faster than the times my legs would hurt, and it wouldn't hurt at all. The other day, I walked 6 miles without any problems, but this morning my legs started hurting after just a few minutes. So it took me weeks to figure out what was going on.

Well, I finally figured it out today. Apparently, sometimes - especially when I'm in a hurry to get somewhere at a specific time - my conscious mind attempts to control the act of walking. This is bad because usually the part of my mind I call The Autopilot (others call it the zombie or the subconscious mind) is the one that does the walking. When the Autopilot is doing the walking, walking is efficient and rhythmic, like a pendulum. When the conscious mind is attempting to do the Autopilot's job, it doesn't do it very well. The pace goes back and forth, the legs don't move like pendulums, and there's a tension in my calves as well. So no wonder they get in pain when that happens. So in other words, it doesn't matter how fast or slow I'm walking when the conscious mind is micromanaging the legs, it's painful to walk that way.

Now, I can tell the difference. One of the major differences is that when the Autopilot is working properly, I feel like my legs have their own pilot and I'm kind of disconnected from them. I can feel them, but they're doing their own thing. When the conscious mind is interfering with the process, I feel like my legs are more a part of me. Plus there's that calf tension. So now hopefully I can stop my conscious mind from interfering with my walking.


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 7th, 2009 04:32 am (UTC)
"I don't know, fly casual!"

I've heard it referred to as lizard-brain too.

Nov. 8th, 2009 06:53 am (UTC)
Never had that with walking, but I'll sometimes lose the automatic control of breathing.
Nov. 8th, 2009 07:59 am (UTC)
I get weird problems with breathing sometimes when I am focusing consciously on it. Those directed breathing exercises in the mindfulness classes at group therapy can be difficult for me. I tend to ignore the instructor in those cases and do my own thing because of it.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )


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