This week at our meeting for our book study on Eckhart Tolle’s book “A New Earth” we were talking about all the different situations with strong emotions that can occur when driving. People had a variety of experiences ranging from anger over being cut off, frustration and anger over tailgaters, a desire to compete on the road, a desire for others to follow the rules and fear and anger over aggressive behavior and full blown road rage incidents.
There was much rumination within the group over the attachments involved and some ideas floated about alternate thoughts to inject into the seething cauldron of egocentric karmic conditioning when the thoughts are swirling and the emotions are high.
The Zen approach is an alternative. The strong emotions we are talking about here are part of the incessant running conversation of egoic mind. One alternative is simply to drop the conversation altogether. “Okay, smart guy”, you might say: “How the h*ll do I do that? This guy ran a red light and then….” Hold up a minute. I did not invent the bad feelings and I did not invent this solution. I learned of it by going to the Zen teacher and the retreats and keeping at it until the solution was handed to me – Mindfulness practice. If you search mindfulness on the blog you can find other descriptions and this practice but here it is for the car.
Mindfulness Practice 1:
Do this when you are driving. Keep your eyes open and focus on the road and your driving.
- Focus on your breath. Feel it drawing in and out. Focus either on the point just at the nostrils where the air goes in and out or on your diaphragm which moves up and down with the inflow and outflow of breath.
- Draw a breath in. Exhale. Count one and wait in anticipation of the next in breath. Draw a breath in. Exhale. Count two and so on up to ten.
- Keep your attention on the breath and the current moment and your driving.
- When you get to ten, start at one.
- If you have lost the count, return attention to driving, consider what was going through your mind, return attention to the breath and begin the count at one again.
Probably the way to use this is to print this out and put it on the car seat as a reminder and pick a day and begin doing this. Turning off the car radio and silencing the gps can help. Essentially, you are using a practice to bring your attention to the current moment and when you do this, your authentic nature will become more prominently “in charge” of things. The part of you (ego) that normally gets angry or judges the other drivers is not in existence when you are in the moment. Doing this “shifts” the attention and awareness into a new mode the same way your gear shift shifts the car into a different gear. In this new mode, the same stuff can happen around you but you will have responses that are different. I would love to see at least five of my friends who do this let us know what happened here with comments!