Driving is something that most people reading this blog will do on a regular basis, and so I thought it a good place to start in what might become a series of everyday mindfulness ideas. That is, demonstrating how easy it is to come back to the moment during the day. No need to sit cross legged in a sanctuary to find a moment’s peace..
What’s more, the act of becoming mindful while driving allows greater safety, not less, because you are not distracting FROM driving but engaging more IN driving.
Imagine you are on a motorway…you look to see what cars are around you, maybe the colours. A thought comes in yet you come back to the cars around you. You feel the steering wheel in your hands, maybe some road surface affects the sensations presented to you. What sounds are there? You become distracted but come back to the sounds. Did you get a nervous feeling when something happened back there? How does that feel in your body now? Relax the shoulders, sit back and feel the pressure against the seat, take a breath and feel the pedals beneath your feet.
Elements of this can be done in any driving scenario. Sitting in traffic, calming down after being cut up, just before getting out of the car. All these moments you can become present, reset the emotions and check in with yourself. How are you doing?
Why the picture above? Well, this was taken by Christine (my partner) about a third of the way into our 2000kms drive from Melbourne to the Sunshine Coast, in Queensland. At about this point I started to do a lot more of the exercises mentioned above to keep focused and alert.
I Had a Dream
A skeleton lay in front of me. Slowly the inner organs appeared in place, like a medical text book illustration. Then tissue, tendons and muscles. Finally a skin, black in colour, encompassed the human being.
A round shaped head then appeared fully taking up my entire field of vision and said in a deep male voice that vibrated within me: “I’ve been telling you for 10,000 years that you are all the same”.
As a ten year old this was quite impactful and felt moving and visceral. It has stayed with me.
I feel lucky to have grown up in multi-cultural London, worked in culturally diverse work places and for most of my career been a part of female dominated teams.
But I am a white, western, university educated male and hence, systemically privileged*.
I have only recently learned that certain concepts the dream put across might be ok for a ten year old but do not work for me now. If I try to hold onto “we are all the same” I implicitly deny the experiences of others who are culturally diverse from me. There are lived realities that I can only dream of and wonder about but will never happen to me.
I can weep, feel sad and rage at the atrocities. And I do. Mostly though, right now, I am listening.
If you too are interested in Mindfulness and racial justice you’ll probably like this podcast: https://www.mindful.org/a-conversation-on-mindfulness-bias-and-racial-justice/
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