Dear reader: If you wish you did more meditating than you do now, you might want to check out my book, Dailyness. Below is an excerpt.
Sometimes I’ll sit up as tall as I can while I’m driving, and then adjust the mirrors. Inevitably I shrink back down to my normal driving posture, and when that happens, I see blue sky in one mirror and car ceiling in the other. If I want to know what’s happening on the road behind me, I must either sit up, or adjust the mirrors. If I choose to sit up, I score that as a win in this game.
The stress of being stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic can be alleviated by medding. Incredibly, traffic jams can become an ex-nuisance. Same goes for stop lights, and careless drivers.
When you’re annoyed and frustrated behind the wheel, here are some things you can do that will reduce unhappiness and grow your practice at the same time. But you don’t have to wait until you’re grumpy. You can do these when you already feel good!
- When you roll to a stop at a stoplight, gamify the wait. One way is to gaze unwaveringly at the red light until it turns green. Sound easy? Good luck. First, it’s hard to remember to do it. And then it can be surprisingly hard to do, depending on how long the light is, and on how heavy your mind is.
- Watch the other vehicles on the road. Not all the time. That’s not realistic. Just some of the time, like any other medding. This means no music or podcasts or conversation. Do this not because actively surveying the traffic reduces the likelihood of collision (even though it does). Do it because traffic-awareness is like the breathing train. You can hop onto the traffic-awareness train, and for however long you stay on the train, that is, for however long you are concentrating on the act of driving, you are doing the work of meditation. And as a reward for your diligence, you’ll sometimes feel a little better afterwards. (Reminder: Points are scored for intention and effort. Results are irrelevant.)
- Ask yourself these questions:
Why do I feel like I’m in a hurry even when I’m not? What’s up with that?
Did I just yell at a total stranger who can’t hear me? In what world does that make sense?
You and your fellow drivers are joined together in an activity that is probably the most dangerous thing any of you will do all day. And you share the same objective: to get where you are going without bumping into each other. Or smashing into each other.
What’s the best way to avoid collisions? To think of your fellow drivers as opponents? Or as teammates? Which is safer? Competition? Or cooperation?
What about all those drivers out there who are discourteous, and distracted, and dangerous? How do I co-operate with that?
I believe the optimal strategy for obtaining the objective is to watch the road at all times, and to instantly and calmly defer to other drivers when that is the safest thing to do. No panic. No fuss. When you come upon selfish drivers who do not see themselves as part of the team, then you do the best thing you can do for them and yourself which is to demonstrate impeccable driving, and to hold no ill-will toward them because like it or not, they are on your team.
All of this will be obsolete of course, when cars and trucks pilot themselves. That will be a great thing for society, in my opinion. Commutes in big cities keep getting slower and longer. Millions of people spending millions of hours on tense and tiring highways, trying not to bump into each other. Self-driving cars will remove much unease from the earth, and the associated dread of driving. People will instead look forward to their commutes, because of their media, and communications, and meditations.
Dailyness is available in print, ebook, and audiobook at all the usual places.