Practicing Mindfulness While Driving
You are never sitting in traffic. You ARE the Traffic.
The Southern California freeways are an insane asylum. For those of you who are uninitiated, the traffic here just plain sucks. I don’t know if it’s the congestion that gets to me, or the way that people drive, or even just the general feel of flowing through a seemingly endless sprawl of a city at 4 miles per hour, almost all of the time. At any rate, it sucks the patience right out of me… It’s also an AMAZING chance to practice mindfulness!
I’ve realized that I have an aversion to giant pick-up trucks with huge wheels and shiny rims. What really bothers me is when I don’t see any dirt or scratches on them, which tells me that truck is simply for show. I also get super annoyed with Hummers. I guess it all goes with the latest bubble mentality of “everyone deserves to be rich and drive luxury”…or whatever… “bigger is better…” “Look at me, I can afford gas…”. BLAH… As it turns out, this “aversion” of mine ends up being nothing but fantasy. Prime for practicing mindfulness while driving.
It’s especially in these circumstances, sitting on the various freeways, in fact, that I’ve lately found a kick-ass way to get mindful. I find that I can observe my thoughts and actually see the stream begin from the first sight of one of these giant road monsters. It usually begins something like this:
“Oh man, there’s ANOTHER one of those things! Let’s see if they use their indicator…. NOPE! Wow, what an arrogant ass, all wrapped up in himself. What makes that guy drive that thing…oh look, he just cut me off…good, because I didn’t want to see the road or any signs in front of me anyway… WOW, his bumper is as high as my head…If he hit me, I’d be screwed…especially from the side…what an &##$^%*_!… I better stay away, far away from that jackass… I hope he doesn’t hurt anyone…how is that thing legal? Gas is expensive, he must be an idiot…”
Watch this is and you’ll see the need to mindfulness while driving! Some language is explicit, so you might want to turn down the volume.
Observing the Traffic That’s Driving Your Mind
I’ve noticed that I get annoyed, but here’s the gem in practicing mindfulness:
I can observe my stream of thoughts and how it changes my emotions. It can take me from a good mood to a bad mood in a flash. It’s just amazing once I start analyzing it using mindfulness. It’s great practice while driving if you have any anxiety or road rage.
It begins with the sense of sight. Then it triggers memories of being annoyed with this crap in the past. My mind begins to create fantasy based around this stimuli. It makes up a story about who this person is, then judges them and labels them, and leads to fear based fantasies of getting hurt by them, or others getting hurt by them. This sometimes leads to anger or frustration depending on the circumstance and whether or not I’ve had coffee, or practiced mindfulness or meditation previously that day.
What is truly amazing about this is that person in the truck might be the nicest person in the world. They might be having a bad day, or they really might be a jackass. They might even practice mindfulness. The truth is, I DON’T KNOW. It is ALL just stimuli running through the filters in my mind. Practicing mindfulness helps me see exactly what my mind is doing in these circumstances. That’s the power of mindfulness, especially while driving behind the wheel.
I truly believe that with enough practice of mindfulness, the stream of thoughts can be averted before triggering emotion. That could help lead to amazing mental possibilities, not to mention a much more calm and pleasant demeanor.
Mindfulness is simply observing your thoughts. That’s it. It’s being mindfully aware of your thoughts as often as you can be. It takes practice, but it’s worth the effort. Sitting in traffic is really a perfect chance to practice mindfulness.
Another great way to learn is to subscribe to this site and get Instant Mindfulness. That will teach you to get into the present moment quickly, in any situation.