An Extract from my blog, Mindfulness in the Real World: The Art of Mindful Living.
Mindfulness even has the power to bring calm onto the battlefields of modern life – known otherwise as our roads. The most significant advantage of bringing Mindfulness to our driving, is to increase our safety and the safety of others, as most road accidents are caused through lack of attention – by treating the act of driving as a means to an end; driving too fast because of wanting to be at the destination more than in the present moment.
Regrettably, when we drive, we can often become so overwhelmed with emotion that even the most placid of us can mutate into angry, foul-mouthed aggressors. The slightest miscommunication or unexpected manoeuvre from another driver can soon have us foaming at the mouth in so-called ‘road-rage.’ At a time when we actively put ourselves at great risk, by propelling ourselves at unnaturally high speeds in heavy, metal objects filled with flammable fuel and other human beings, we seem to neglect mindful attention at a time when it is most needed. When we drive, Mindfulness can literally be the difference between life and death. As with everyday life, driving is only rendered hazardous and laborious if we are not mindful. Within one short, simple car journey we can often act out a lifetimes worth of emotional drama; it is as though the journey itself becomes a condensed micro-version of our life; with our impulses and emotions quite literally in the driving seat.
Much like life, a journey without Mindfulness is a journey rife with suffering, danger, rush-rush irritability and impatience; and like life, we mistakenly come to believe that we are in full control of everything – and so when faced with a sudden and unexpected setback, we suffer greatly as we grapple to accept the situation: ‘This shouldn’t be happening!’ – ‘I can’t believe this!’ – ‘This is unacceptable!’ and so on. Mindfulness allows us to let go of the false belief that we are ever in full control of anything – for we commit to the present moment, not the narrative in our head which is forever destined to let us down, and cause us pain and suffering.
And so to drive mindfully, we focus our awareness fully on the present moment – not on the projected destination, or on the driver that cut us up moments ago. Just as with any other everyday task, we can learn to savour each sensory element of driving. We can focus on each gear change; the texture of the steering-wheel, the resistance of the pedals, the undulation of the road; the sound of the engine; the varying road surfaces or the scenes passing by the window. And, by bringing our attention back to our breathing as often as we can; in just a few seconds we can transform an often stressful and aggravating experience into one of enjoyment and fulfilment. If everyone applied Mindfulness to their driving, our roads as well as our minds would be far more harmonious and safer places.
This in an extract from my blog, Mindfulness in the Real World: The Art of Mindful Living.