When beginning a meditation practice, some recall their first meditative experience off the cushion while driving. Especially after an intensive session or daylong practice, a meditative experience can easily drift into the time spent driving after. Meditative driving is born in mindfulness, when you place your awareness on where you are in the present moment and apply some level of peaceful abiding when obstacles arise. Mindful driving does not replace meditation practice, but is an opportunity to bring a contemplative experience into your daily life.
There are some great exercises to bring mindfulness to driving. You may wish to turn off the stereo system and/or silence your phone. Another option is to try driving below the speed limit which allows you to connect more with your surroundings. Leave on time and welcome traffic/detours. Develop new mantras including “May you be well, may you be happy” when confronted with aggressive drivers. Include the breath in your driving experience, take deep breaths before starting the car or connect with your breath intermittently while driving. Also, use driving as time to work with your posture adjusting your seat to be upright, sitting evenly, and keep a level head as you gaze over the dashboard. Here are more exercises.
The next time you are caught in traffic, don’t fight. It is useless to fight. If you sit back and smile to yourself, you will enjoy the present moment and make everyone in the car happy. The Buddha is there, because the Buddha can always be found in the present moment. Practicing meditation is to return to the present moment in order to encounter the flower, the blue sky, the child, the brilliant red light.
Thich Nhat Hanh
Jacquelyn Renée Schneider