Mindful Driving

st-pancras-2016-150dpi-1772Mindfulness is a very beneficial practice for many everyday tasks. Paying close attention to the here and now objectively is an essential element for a well-balanced, safe and productive life.

One of the tasks in which mindfulness plays an essential role is driving a motor vehicle. Whether that vehicle is a car, truck, bus, motorcycle or boat, mindfulness is extremely important for operating that vehicle safely. Mindful Driving can also provide us with the same benefits that mindfulness practices in other areas of life bring, like; increased self-awareness, reduced stress levels, increased creativity, empathy, problem solving, understanding, wisdom and various health benefits.

If you have been driving for a while you probably already feel as if you know how to drive and to drive well. I have seldom met anyone who thinks that they are a bad driver. I have also never met anyone who has not been in even a minor accident, not even a tap on a fender in the garage. The fact is that most accidents in any area of life are caused by not paying attention to the moment and to the task at hand objectively. Obviously you cannot control the actions of other drivers but you can deal with their poor driving by being a mindful defensive driver. Mindfulness practices are a perfect way to prevent most accidents and to live a safer and happier life.

To be Mindful is to be paying close attention to the here and now, without judgement, without emotion, without distractions of any kind. This takes practice to accomplish but everyone is capable of achieving this state of mind. You can learn to do this with a teacher, books or with guided meditations. You can use a guided meditation like Meditation 1 or Meditation 2 from Light Unlimited Publishing. For dealing with distractions and emotions I suggest the guided meditation, Mastery over Stress or Letting Go. If you are going to have access to the benefits of Mindfulness Meditation during the day and evening you must practice your meditations before you need those skills. Like anything you wish to become proficient at, Mindfulness and Meditation must be practiced regularly. When I say, Be Mindful, I mean all the aspects of mindfulness as described above.

Here are step by step instructions on how to do Mindful Driving. (I will use the term ‘car’ but this process is appropriate for any vehicle).

Step 1.

Do a 10-20 minute meditation each morning before starting your day. This practice is essential if you are going to be able to use Mindfulness effectively when you need it.

Step 2.

Before you open the door to the car, take a deep breath and release it. Pay close attention objectively to your surroundings for a moment. Be Mindful.

Step 3.

Just before you start the car take a deep breath and be mindful of your vehicle, the environment around you and your mental and emotional state. Be certain you are in a clear and mindful state before starting the car. Use the techniques you have learned for dealing with any distractions. Be Mindful.

Step 4.

Just before beginning to put the car’s transmission into reverse or drive, take a deep breath and be mindful of your surroundings. Completely aware of your surroundings on every side of the vehicle in great detail. Be sure all safety features of your vehicle are working. Pay attention to the condition of your car, your passengers and anything else that might affect your driving and your journey. Be Mindful.

Step 5.

Before driving, know where you are going and how you plan to get there. Remind yourself of alternatives. Be Mindful.

Step 6.

Drive. Pay absolute and minute attention to every detail of this activity, your vehicle and especially, your surroundings. You cannot do this and text on your phone, talk on your phone, have a deep and lengthy conversation with your passengers or think about the past or the future. Be Mindful.

Step 7.

When you arrive at your destination, park mindfully. If you are parking in a parking lot, pay attention. Are you parked in an appropriate place? Are you parked in one space and not taking up more than one parking space? Are you parked considerately? Are you parked safely?

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Now pay attention to how it feels to have done this Mindful Driving exercise. Take this mindset with you for the rest of your day and evening. Try applying your Mindfulness Meditation practices to your other activities.

For more information on how to learn and improve your Mindfulness Meditation practices read some of the other articles at the Life’s Answers website. I have also posted some excellent Mindfulness Meditation exercises there.

Let me know your experiences with this and share them with others.

© 2017 Jon Shore   All Rights Reserved.

To repost or re-print please contact Jon at jshore@lifesanswers.org.