Blog: Path of my Life
by Karlin

Driving Experience - A practical meditation for the highway

Passing hours quickly by disengaging thoughts of the future and past

Date:   7/18/2007 9:58:50 PM   ( 14 y ) ... viewed 1696 times

I have wanted to write this for a long time, but it is complex and therefore a challenge to deliver it in a few paragraphs. I will try -


When we are driving, safety is of course parmount. I assure you that this technique will only help your driving safety, not reduce it - it is about paying attention.

For the long highway drives, the drivers and passengers have a lot of spare time without any activity to occupy their minds with. When alone, or when conversation is not happening, our thoughts can go anywhere but they almost allways go to the "are we there yet" state - how much longer?, how many kilometers left?, how far have we travelled? We think about what it will be like when we get there, what we will do and who we will see. We think about details - did I remember my wallet? do I have pyjamas? and where did I hide my stash? [ha ha]. We tend to think of the clock a lot too - are we making sufficient progress?

Sure, it is good to consider all those things at some point, but then it becomes pointless to go over and over them. They are not real.

None of those things are part of "your actual experiences in this moment", in that they didn't happen yet or they happened previously but are not happening "now". We end up distracting ourselves from "the richness of the moment" by allways entertaining those thoughts of the past and future events. We burn a lot of energy worrying about 'things that we didn't pack' even though there is nothing we can do about it while on the road. We make the trip a lot more exhausting than it has to be by burning up all that mental energy thinking about the past and future.

"Experience the moment" - you will be more relaxed. Your trip will seem shorter as the moments pass by without being counted. I am sure that have had that happen before - when having a good time the hours can fly by, but on a boring road trip they can seem long. Meditation of the moment is a good way to 'make the hours fly by' because we are purposely paying attention to the present and not thinking about the bigger picture of "are we there yet" thinking.

******HOW TO:

The way to experience the moment while driving is to pay attention to "all that is here now, and nothing that is not here now". Simple, we are just re-directing our thoughts. The vibrations you feel, the smells you might notice, the sounds you hear no matter how droll they are [better to have the radio off for this], and visually you are just looking at the road [and you will do the right things, yes].

Once you have payed attention to those dull things for a few minutes, start to pay attention to your body - how do your legs feel, how does your back feel, your belly, your arms, hands wrists, neck etc. Are you breathing slow or fast - slow it down and breathe deeply [into the abdomen, not the chest as much], paying attention to the breathing [you will NOT get sleepy when concentrating like this, you will stay sharper, yes it is true, but don't close your eyes!].

Then, combine the 'bodily' with the 'experience around you', keep it all in mind at once or one part at a time - and that is lots to think about - see how rich the present moment is?

Surprisingly, that is basically enough!! Now you are meditating - your thoughts narrowed to the present experiences, and not wandering around to things that are not real in this moment, is all that meditation asks of us.

Whenever your mind darts off to the "are we there yet" place, gently bring it back by choosing one of the present moment things like the vibrations you are feeling. just notice them, just say "ok, there is that vibration under my feet, and in the steering wheel, and my butt too". Thats enough to focus your mind on the present, and usher out the thoughts of past and future that make a trip soooo long.

"Being aware of only the present experience" is NOT meant to be entertaining, and there is where I lose some of you I guess. However, at least it is NOT making you stressed and feeling like it is a long trip, NOT wasted mental energy on the past and future stuff. And your trip will seem faster the more you can be "in the present". Try it, you might thank me. Its a mental exersize, its not mystical at all.

With some practise, not much at all, you can master the 'meditation while driving' technique. One 8 hr. trip will make you an expert!! You WILL see what I mean when you have spent an hour trying to stay focused on the present, it really does work. And your driving safety will be very good too, no aggressive stuff and those bad drivers will not bother you much.

You will find yourself going around corners feeling the centrifugal forces and having your tires going in a perfect path, because you are paying attention to the present moment. Thinking about that makes your thoughts focused. Straight highways allow you to focus on your body or other things in the present.

'Meditation while driving' is similiar to listening to music while driving in that it is actually happening, and it is focusing your thoughts away from details of the trip, but I recommend NOT listening to the radio or music while doing this meditation. Save that for the next hour of the trip.

It is no small task for a human being to slow the flow of thoughts. This is the human condition, it is a blessing and a curse, it is consciousness and it can be madness. Anxiety is created in our minds, and it is allmost allways to do with thoughts of future or past events, unless you just had an accident. We think constantly. That seems to be the frst step to understanding stress and to being able to meditate. It is a real gift to be able to suddenly stop being anxious, and it will make you a better driver to not be anxious too. Controlling the flow of thoughts is key to reducing anziety, it really really is. This is essential information that we should be taught in school.

One last thing - road rage. When you get cut off by that aggressive driver, just notice how it affects your body!! "Choose" to NOT REACT. Choose to pay atention to your body and the present moment, in which the insult is allready gone. Be aware that you are in the present moment even when your thoughts go beyond it, and then come back to seeing only what is here now in the present moment. Once you have done that, the road rage subsides, at least the reaction you are having to it will subside. Then work on relaxing all those parts of the body that got so tense when it happened - wrists, abdomen, breathing deep, legs, back, neck...

...and the JAW - I forgot to mention the JAW - pay attention to the tension in your JAW while driving, and that alone will get you about 199 miles. {Oh ya, we are not counting.... ha ha ha, got me!]

Happy Trails!!

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