Mindfulness Could Have Prevented Me From Wrecking My Car, Twice
If 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?
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?
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)
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.
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