Road rage and driver upset – at the Prison Yoga Practice

Road Rage at the Prison Yoga Practice


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!


About sordog1

Shiva Steve Ordog is a Yoga Instructor certified by Yoga Alliance - RYT 200, a Thought Field Therapy Practitioner (TFT-Algo) and a Zen practitioner. He is the author of a book on meditation, mindfulness, and yoga called "Hey, Yoga Man!: Yoga Practices for Everyday Life from a Prison Yoga Practice"
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4 Responses to Road rage and driver upset – at the Prison Yoga Practice

  1. Jane Tzilvelis says:

    This is a positive practice Steve. Thank you for sharing it. I do feel that one must set the Intention to stop a behavior. We get to choose how we want to live our lives in each moment. As we mature, we learn that our lives are interdependent upon others. There is no one that can live on this earth without the help of others. What we think and do effects everyone.

    Our lives are everything we enounter. Maturing emotionally means we must give up ways of behavior that do not serve us well or the community. Therefore, we must learn to live pro-actively rather than react to whatever situation arises.

    What are the benefits of road rage? Setting the Intention to stop this negative behavior may save a life. Stepping back and doing this meditation daily, teaches one how to self-soothe. When the angry child comes out to scream, “the road rage” driver turns inward, and does the meditation. Instead of attaching to angry emotions, the driver learns to be “porous” to the angry emotion and feel it fully without hurting oneself or other. The meditation becomes the of offering love to both the driver and the community.

  2. Nicole Belmo says:

    Thanks Steve! These are great tips in mindfulness, which can be used in every single situation of life! Without mindfulness, it is extremely difficult not to react with negative behaviors/feelings in times of negligence while driving. The need to ‘control’ is steadily lurking, waiting for the perfect times to pop up. As Tolle says, we need to be mindful so that we can lessen our attachment to ego. Also, that we may lessen the need to take the behaviors of another ego personally.
    There are no accidents, so why are these situations occurring anyway? In the 2004 movie, Crash, I will never forget the quote at the beginning of the movie.. “It’s the sense of touch. In any real city, you walk, you know? You brush past people, people bump into you. In L.A., nobody touches you. We’re always behind this metal and glass. I think we miss that touch so much, that we crash into each other, just so we can feel something.” Are people so devoid of human connection that they’ve got to ‘crash’ just to feel something??
    I will practice the tips specifically while driving and I’ll give you feedback in a week or so. Thanks again!! ~;}

  3. Mary Dalton says:

    Mindfulness Practice 1

    This is a good practice, it is simple and is applicable to multiple situations.

    Road rage is not a seething situation for me personally however, I am far from free of egoic conditioning. Sometimes, I wonder if road rage as one example (there are multiple examples of explosive reactions) is also a reaction to unresolved anger deep within us. I think we as humans (form VS formless) walk around like time bombs and when something totally unforeseen occurs our reaction is out of control.
    But if we use the situation (like you suggested) and look inward vs outward there is so much to gain painful as it may be at the time.

    Thank you Steve. You have a great web site:)

  4. khrey55 says:

    I’d try it, if I had car…
    or does this work for motorcycles, too?
    OK, that’s 4 friends, 1 more to go!

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