One of my very first readers recently left a comment asking if I would do a driving meditation post. This is one I had been thinking about for a while, but when ideas for other posts started coming up, this one fell to the wayside a little bit. But after getting a request, I decided, what better time than now to finally do it? Let’s look at some factors to consider.
Driving doesn’t feel like ‘my time’ to many people
How many of us look at driving as an incidental event that we ordinarily wouldn’t even partake in as much if we weren’t required to? I personally know several people who hate driving, and resent the fact they have to do it simply to get to their jobs, or go to the store, or wherever. This is especially the case if the commute is particularly long and fairly regular in schedule.
We want to shift our consciousness into a frame where it can accept the task as something we are doing anyways, so we might as well do what we can to get whatever we can out of it.
The labor of driving presents unique challenges and discrepancies we should observe in order to be safe on the road. Obviously, you would not want to close your eyes, or lose your focus for too long an amount of time; In fact, if done properly, driving meditation should make you a better, safer, more aware, and conscious driver.
If you haven’t begun your drive yet, take a few moments to breath and release any anxiety related to your trip you will be taking. Clarify your intention for being on the road, both reaching your destination safely, and allowing yourself to become calm an aware of the process. Meditation is about awareness.
If you’re already driving, it may be more difficult, or sometimes even easier to come into meditation, depending on how the drive is going at the particular moment. If someone cuts you off, it may take a few more miles before you can become calm and aware. Focus on your breathing, and remain non-judgmental. We’re all driving treacherous roads, and we don’t know anyone else’s destination; they could very well be on their way to a funeral for a loved one.
Focus on your body resting on the seat, and your hands on the steering wheel, your feet on the pedals. Be mindful of how your body feels, noticing any tension you are holding, be it gripping the steering wheel too tightly, or maybe you’re just positioned in such a way it’s putting pressure on your back/butt and you need just a small adjustment to release it.
There is a phenomenon that occurs with many drivers every day, which is a kind of body-mapping. The body gets so in-tune with what it’s doing, that it actually seems to account for feelings and sensations not connected to the body at all, but to the instrument it is using. Martial artists, surgeons, and musicians also experience this sensation; it is the feeling that the boundaries where your body end and the car(sword, scalpel, guitar) begins just dissolves away.
Have you ever been in the car with a driver who is absolutely in love with his car, and all of a sudden he asks, “Can you hear that? That clicking?”
Of course you can’t hear it, you’re not as in-tune with the particular instrument as the driver is to his favourite ride. Drivers can often tell something is wrong with their car long before anyone else even notices, and long before it’s even really apparent. This also happens with musicians who think an instrument sounds off for a short while before a guitar string finally breaks.
Become One with the Car
Once you are mindful of your body and its sensations, allow your body to feel the ebb and flow of the car. Feel the vastness of the car as different from the narrowness(relatively) of your own body. Let the car take the entire weight of your body; you and the car exist in your own dimension of velocity, independent of any other cars or anything else in the world even. Remain aware of your speed and direction, and then feel the boundaries of you/car to dissolve until you, the car, and the road are all one.
Within this independent dimension of velocity, much of the ‘drag’ of our everyday life disappears. How we perceive our physical sensations can have a dramatic impact on the mind, and driving is one of the best opportunities for this. You may often hear of people taking a drive just to clear their head or something similar, this is the reason.
Finally, after dissolving the boundaries between your body, the car, and the road, allow yourself to be conscious of the process of life itself. Driving can be a wonderful metaphor for life; we’re all here, cruising to our destination, but we can often times get too caught up with finally getting there, we miss the beautiful sights and sounds we can experience along the way, not to mention the chances for meditation.
Realize there is nowhere for you to go, you’re already HERE. When your drive is over, and you reach where you were going, then that will be HERE, but until then you can only ever be HERE, exactly where you are. In order to find peace in our lives, we must remain aware of this fact.
You can always listen to music if you choose, but I find if it’s something too familiar, or something I really like, I get really into rocking out with the song(which is a meditation in and of itself), and you can forget the act of driving meditation. I recommend something you aren’t familiar with, or something without words to keep from distracting you if you choose to listen to music. I personally love listening to classical when I’m doing driving meditation, but this is just my preference. Listen to the song that opens your heart. Or find a random song, and open your heart to it. Breath, and let the road guide you.