I’ve been practicing mindfulness lately, as an antidote to the chaos, and I’ve extended it to my driving habits. When I say chaos, I know what I’m talking about. Thanks to Internet genealogy, I have discovered that Chaos was my 100th Great-Grandfather on my mother’s side (and I have the full tree to prove it!)
But I digress.
Mindfulness is a way to clear your mind of everything but the present moment, and I have found it to be a valuable way to relax and focus on one thing at a time. Often it is used, like meditation, while sitting quietly, but I have discovered the act of mindful driving to make my 20 minute commute more fulfilling:
- Turn off the phone
- Turn off the radio
- Turn off your thoughts about where you’re going or what you’ll be doing after you arrive at your destination
When your mind starts to lock into any other thoughts unrelated to driving, gently move them back to the present. Two things that help are to be aware of your breathing, and to be aware of the sounds around you. And of course, be aware of your control of your car and of the road and traffic around you. Really, there are plenty of things to be aware of while staying present and mindful!
You might think that you’ll get so caught up in this that you’ll end up in a trance or miss your exit. Actually, I’ve found that this heightens my awareness and the focus on the task gets me where I’m going much more effectively. It’s thinking about 10 other things that usually makes me miss my exit!
(The thing that I have found most distracting from present mindfulness while driving was when I started composing this blog post in my head. So here it is, and I can get back to concentrating on my driving. )