Mindfulness Could Have Prevented Me From Wrecking My Car, Twice

road-sign-663362_1280If you’ve been to my country, you’ll know that the average drivers on the road would put any Formula 1 racer to shame. Put any polite gentleman (or ladies) you normally meet on the street into a normal 5 seaters and suddenly you’ll have the next potential race track champion.

Exaggerating? I’ll let my countrymates testify for that.

And of me wrecking my car? Well, I think I misused the word. Maybe a dent on the chassis that landed my car in the repair workshop for weeks would have been more appropriate. Not to mention the inconvenience of filing police reports and insurance claims.

I wasn’t speeding. In fact, I was driving slower than turtle speed when it happened, on both counts. I was having my thoughts on a few thousand issues and before I knew it, I was crashing into someone’s car.

Ok. Enough of ranting.

As much as I blog about mindfulness and meditation, there are times when I forgot to be mindful. Especially in things that are hard to be mindful. (I hate excuses) But read here on how mindfulness practice in daily life is not as easy as it seems.

As for now, I’ll just like to know why do we have this personality split syndrome when we’re behind the wheel.

What Happened To Your Mind When You Drive?

How Mindfulness Could Save Me From Wrecking My Car, Twice

Have you ever felt how you transform into a stranger when you step on the gas? Do you feel anger rage all over you the moment you start the engine?

How selfishness, anger, and even hatred creeps in so easily when you know you are not normally so.

Did you get your horn blaring when someone cuts into your line without the signals on? Or those curse words that you keep muttering to yourself when you’re trapped in heavy traffic.

What’s going on?

Dr. Ryan Martin on PsychologyToday listed tension, goal-blocking, unwritten rules and anonymous offenders as the main culprits of our road rage behavior. You can check out the article for the details but here’s the short version of it.

  • Tension – Driving is dangerous. Even if you’ve been driving for decades. Sorry if it bruises your ego (and mine) but you feel a slight tension when you drive without you consciously realizing that.
  • Goal-Blocking – When you drive, you want to get from point A to B. Anything else is an obstruction. Traffic jams, red lights, or a cow crossing the road would bring out the anger.
  • Unwritten rules – This is when you have your horn blaring on the guy in the fast lane when he is at the max of the speed limit and not budging. You have set your own unwritten rules and when others don’t follow, you get frustrated.
  • Anonymous Offender – Remember the time you are swearing that the driver next lane when he’s using his cellphone because it’s against the rule? But you find it ok sending a text on Whatsapp 5 minutes later because it’s important for you.

But No, I Didn’t Wreck My Car Because Of Road Rage

If you ever try living the no-life of a start-up, you will know the thousands of issues racing in your thoughts each day. (And don’t even get me started about work-life balance).

Even if you’re living the simple corporate life, you will have your fair share of worries and stress. And driving IS always the time to let loose of those thoughts.

When driving becomes your second nature, you will spend most of your journey making plans, worrying, solving problems and jotting down hundreds of notes in your mental diary. Until you got a blaring horn from the truck at the back.

Or awaken by the rude shock of knocking into someone’s brand new car.

Remember that mindfulness is about being in the present? That’s the most important yet difficult thing to do when you’re driving.

Mindfulness Meditation On The Road?

How Mindfulness Could Save Me From Wrecking My Car, Twice

Mindfulness meditation, in its religious form, is the core of the journey to enlightenment in Buddhism. Which makes me ponder if cars were invented 2,500 years ago, would Buddha teach us how to meditate while driving?

Unfortunately, we don’t have cars back then. So I guess common sense and a touch of mindfulness behind the wheel will save you (and me) time, money, heartache and probably our precious life the next time on the road.

Or perhaps, driving meditation is possible after all. I stumbled into a new Facebook group by the name “Driving Meditation” and wonder what it’s all about. And when I caught the title of the book pinned at the top of the group, I knew it could do us drivers good.

Learning To Drive Into The Now talks about how the simple practice of mindfulness can transform our driving experience. I’ve flipped those pages in the first chapter. I think it’s an easy read with practical useful tips that we can all apply in our ride.

By the way, I’ve not wrecked a single car since I brought mindfulness practice back in my life. (And touch wood on that)

Your Turn
Have you ever lost your temper when you’re driving? Or got into trouble because you’re having your mind elsewhere? Do you struggle to focus on the road? Share your thoughts here.

Related:

Best Essential Oil Car Diffuser For Better Journey
What Do You Think When You Meditate And Why It Matters
Why Mindfulness Practice Is Simple But Not Easy In Daily Life
21 Mindfulness Meditation Tips To Keep Meditation Simple
Best Ways To Meditate When You Are Tired and Stressed

About the Author

I am an engineer-turned-writer who once struggle with social anxiety. After overcoming problems inflicted by low self-esteem and the fear of interaction, I realize the need for taking a holistic approach in developing our mind. I'm sharing my experience, remedies, and techniques that interest me in my quest to be a better self.

Leave a Reply 19 comments

Ryan L - October 14, 2016 Reply

this is a great article explaining perfectly about mindfulness.
I do practice in meditation but have slacked off ever since my daughter was born.
I do notice a difference in my everyday life.
Without practising in mindfulness my mind tends to wander and my concentration isn’t as good now.
In recent years I have noticed that I do get more angry while driving my car, especially while stuck in traffic.

Would you recommend this book for somebody like me?

Ryan

Ben - October 14, 2016 Reply

I always wondered what happened to otherwise nice people when they hit the road, and they turn into monsters with wild road rage. This gives me a good idea why it happens.

    Kenny Lee - October 15, 2016 Reply

    Hi Ben,

    It’s amazing how the science explains what happened to us when we’re driving.

    Cheers,
    Kenny

Jackie - October 14, 2016 Reply

You are so right… I think driving is one of the most difficult places to stay mindful. It’s scary to think people are driving around all the time ‘not there’. Also, I find it difficult to stay mindful in the shower. My mind just wants to drift off and start making commentary about EVERYTHING. It doesn’t matter if it’s good or bad, just so it’s talking .

    Kenny Lee - October 15, 2016 Reply

    Hi Jackie,

    Now that you mention it, I do think it’s very scary that the driver at the back wouldn’t even notice I’m slowing down. At least a wandering mind in the shower is still not as dangerous as driving.

    Cheers,

    Kenny

Summerly - October 14, 2016 Reply

I liked this article. I can relate to much of it, but lucky I haven’t been in any major accidents. I do find my time driving to be my time to think. That could be the reason, for me at least, that I get angry at others on the road. Maybe they did something to stop my train of thought and then I would get angry. But that isn’t fair for the other driver…although many times I get angry because people make their own rules on the road, like you mentioned, which is very annoying! I should try to be more in the ‘now’ next time I drive, thanks!

    Kenny Lee - October 15, 2016 Reply

    Hi Summerly,

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts here. We often get annoyed on the road easily. Let’s be more mindful.

    Cheers,
    Kenny

Eddie - October 14, 2016 Reply

I think this article was written with me in mind. I can’t drive a mile up the road without having a go at someone or something.
Someone is always annoying me, either driving too fast or too slow, not indicating, on their phone, not parked properly, drinking coffee at the wheel.
Basically, I’ve got to the stage that I believe people just do these things to annoy me!!

My wife is the opposite, nothing gets her riled. That used to annoy me to, until she told me she tunes out while driving. She is to busy putting the world right that she sometimes doesn’t remember getting from A to B.
I think we both need a copy of that book for Christmas.
Great post. Very thought provoking

    Kenny Lee - October 15, 2016 Reply

    Hi Eddie,

    I guess I’m worse than you when I’m driving. I have both frustration and losing my thoughts when I’m on the wheel. I guess I need TWO copy of that book then.

    Anyway, thanks for sharing your thoughts here.

    Cheers,
    Kenny

Jenny - October 14, 2016 Reply

Very useful information! Mindfulness would definitely help the crazy driving situations we all encounter every day. Will keep this in mind next time I drive. Thx!

    Kenny Lee - October 15, 2016 Reply

    Hi Jenny,

    Thanks for reading. Let’s be mindful.

    CHeers,
    Kenny

Chevon - October 14, 2016 Reply

I can understand driving home from work with thousands of thoughts running though your brain. It causes many accidents. I like your website. Meditation is key. I especially like the quote : “Success Starts From Your Mind”. I may put that quote on my Facebook Page, If you don’t mind?

    Kenny Lee - October 15, 2016 Reply

    Hi.

    Sometimes accident happens just because we are not ourselves when we’re driving. Could totally be prevented. You can put that quote on your Facebook page. It would be great if you could mention my site. Either way it’s fine too.

    Cheers,
    Kenny

Mohammad Makki - October 23, 2016 Reply

I’m a lot like you Kenny. I never get road rage, but I have wrecked cars simply because I can’t focus. My eyes are on the road, but my mind is anywhere else. I’m just not a focused guy, and if I even get a chance to daydream, I will. I guess I’ll have to look into this book, because I’m actually a danger to other drivers. How likely is it that it’ll help me as it did you?

    Kenny Lee - October 24, 2016 Reply

    Hi Makki.

    The book shows us how you can be more aware when you’re driving. The author has granted some limited free audiobooks. If you’re interested just drop me an email.

    Cheers,
    Kenny

Lawrence - October 27, 2016 Reply

Mindfulness is king, always has been, always will be.

Think how many accidents occur simply because folks are not mindful of what they’re doing.

They’re too busy on their phones, eating whilst driving, having petty arguments.

I went to France Last week and we had a minor crash on the way to the ferry port. I was in the back whilst my parents were arguing. My dad wasn’t paying attention and he panicked to turn off and went side on with a four by four.

No one was hurt thankfully, just scuffing on each vehicle.

9/10 it’s always unawareness.

“Which makes me ponder if cars were invented 2,500 years ago, would Buddha teach us how to meditate while driving?” – That is a very interesting thought Kenny ha!

Thanks again!

    Kenny Lee - October 27, 2016 Reply

    Hi Lawrence,

    I’m glad that you and your family are alright during the accident. It just shows how important mindfulness are especially when we’re doing something that requires our full attention. Just a moment of lapse in mindfulness could be costly.

    Thanks for reading.

    Cheers,
    Kenny

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