One of the best places to learn mindfulness is in your car. Many of you know how much I love to travel. I used to take very long road trips, oftentimes from Los Angeles to Salt Spring Island.
Driving used to be hard on me. I would get tired after 3-4 hours of highway driving. But I decided to try something new: I began driving as a practice of meditation. The four doors of my car became my mini retreat. While I was driving I began to focus primarily on my breath. This had a profound effect. I was able to stretch my driving times to 8-12 hours a day without feeling tired.
As I began practicing mindfulness, I had no idea how much tension I drove with, especially in my breath. When someone sped up behind my car and tailgated me, that’s when I especially held my breath and began to tense up. So I began practicing deeper, calmer breathing during stressful driving experiences like traffic or aggressive driving on the road.
When I did this, I noticed the cars around me would often shift the way they drove and would drive with more space and peacefulness. I also began to experience flow states where I felt I was no longer driving and completely one with the road and everything around me. It was rejuvenating and powerful to experience. That’s when I came to realize the profound benefit of practicing presence while driving.
Considering how much time people spend in the car, learning mindfulness while driving presents a perfect opportunity to practice. What better time to learn to be in the moment than on the road?
Here are 3 ways on how you can learn how to drive mindfully.
Always remember to drive safely and keep your attention on the road!
- Pay attention to your breath. Try to keep a steady, even breath while you drive. Our breath tends to become shallow and tight when we find ourselves in traffic or stressful driving situations. It’s a simple and effective tool to tap into to help relieve tension during your drive.
- Pay attention to bodily sensations. Be aware of your posture and any tension you are feeling. Tune into your shoulders, legs, feet, and even your grip on the steering wheel. Are you squeezing any part of your body or are you relaxed? If you find yourself tense, a simple focus on breathing in and pausing between each inhale and exhale will help you become more anchored and centered.
- Practice peaceful centering as you drive. You’ll notice this affects the atmosphere on the road. If someone is tailgating you or you feel aggression on the road, you may notice a shift when you begin to center yourself.