I love long road trips. I’ve come to fall in love with them. But before I started journeying in my prius cross country, I used to hate driving for long periods of time. It wasn’t until I started driving out of necessity, that I began to truly enjoy the solitary time alone in my car on the road.
Instead of getting to point A to point B, driving turned into an experiential retreat. Situated in the small space of my car for hours at a time, I had nothing to do but breathe, drive and look around on the open road. It was “me” time to think, contemplate and meditate. Sometimes I’d feel exhausted from long periods of driving. I’d think to pull over to rest, but when I relaxed more deeply, and stopped resisting, I began to surrender and feel a profound sense of oneness and being in the zone. I fell in love with these heightened “spiritual” experiences and driving became a moving meditation retreat.
While driving and meditating, I noticed that when I relaxed more and breathed more, the drivers around me would also shift. I especially noticed this with people who had a tendency to tailgate. If someone came up behind me quickly, almost in an attempt to bully me off the road, I relaxed, grounded and simply breathed. Just by doing this for myself, I began to notice that aggressive drivers would back-off, provide more space, and I could easily move into another lane.
I’ve often noticed how our unconscious tendencies tend to get expressed on the road. Separated by huge sheets of metal and anonymity, our hidden aggression and angst can be easily channeled through our on-road behavior. We take out our frustration from our family, friends, relationships, and work them out on other drivers.
Instead of using our solitary time “just driving,” it can actually be a time to practice meditation. It can be a time for inner-work. Meditation brings heightened attention and awareness to the present. You can use your driving time productively. How are you sitting? What are you thinking? How are you breathing while you drive?
Paying attention and choosing to “be” while you “drive” can bring new light to your experience of driving. See if you can take a breath and choose to meditate when you sit at red lights, in traffic, and at stop signs.
Meditation helps you develop a hyper-awareness to your positioning, speed, and interaction on the road. Enjoy these tips for applying your meditation practice to daily driving.