A driving meditation? Say what? After reading that title you may be thinking, “Meditating while driving? That’s crazy!”
You are probably envisioning someone trying to drive a vehicle with their eyes closed, seated in the lotus position, and chanting mantras, while trying to form appropriate mudras with their hands. That is the typical experience most people think of when they hear the word “meditation”.
Driving meditation, also called mindful driving, is a totally different animal.
Many types of meditation simply ask you to be mindful of your present experience. This means to open your mind and all of your senses to everything that is going on around you.
Doesn’t this sound like the perfect recipe for safe driving? How many hours a day or a week do you spend behind the wheel of your car? Instead of considering this as wasted, stressful time, why not use it as a chance to practice mindfulness?
Notice that this “driving meditation” practice is called “mindful driving”, and not road rage, judgmental driving, or revenge driving.
Here are five easy steps to incorporate mindfulness driving meditation into your drive:
1. Take a few deep breaths. Take a minute or two to be aware of your body. Feel the sensation of your hands on the steering wheel, the seatbelt against your shoulder, your foot on the petal. Make an effort to feel as present and as aware of your body as possible.
2. Turn off radios and audiobooks and your phone. This includes your favorite radio stations and audiobooks and cell phone. Spend a minute enjoying the silence. Listen to the engine of your car rumble. Enjoy the sensation of having zero distractions.
3. As you drive, tune in to your surroundings. You have probably never even noticed it, but your eyes are looking everywhere when you drive—on the road in front of you, in three different mirrors, on the sidewalks, and more. Notice that you are looking when you drive. Then, be aware that you are listening. Pay attention to every sound you hear.
4. Develop mindfulness rituals. A mindfulness routine might feel unusual at first, so ease into it. Make small efforts, like pausing to take a deep breath every time your car stops. Or, reward yourself with a small piece of your favorite candy when you complete five minutes of mindfulness in your drive.
5. When your mind wanders, gently bring it back. Nobody masters mindfulness in a day: your mind WILL wander. When it does, gently bring it back with the steps mentioned above.
Being totally aware of everything that is going on around you while you drive is going to mean that you definitely see poor driving habits by other drivers. When you practice mindfulness driving meditation, whether driving or seated comfortably in your living room, you become aware of your current experience.
However, you do not judge the experience. You simply encounter it, allow yourself to experience it, only concerning yourself with truly being in the moment.
This means that your vision sees brake lights popping up on a line of vehicles in front of you. Your ears alert you to a car horn. Your hands notice that there is a little movement in your steering wheel, which means you may have encountered a rougher or more difficult driving terrain.
If more people would practice mindful driving meditation, instances of traffic accidents and road rage would drop dramatically.
Mindful driving meditation could lead to lower insurance rates. It can definitely help lower your stress level if you are heading to a job you hate and can help you de-stress after a challenging day at work. This means less stress and
anxiety when you arrive home, which promotes a happier home environment.
There are a lot of reasons to practice mindfulness while you drive in the form of a driving meditation.
Not only do you become a safer and more aware driver, but your daily commute can actually become a stress-reliever, rather than promoting stress and anxiety.
The next time you drive, practice a driving meditation and be present in everything that is going on around you. Develop an awareness of your situation, without reacting judgmentally. You will find more peace and less stress in your life, and may actually enjoy driving when in the past it was an activity you dreaded.