Driving Meditation

As I was driving to my yoga class yesterday morning, I remembered an article I had read many years ago. This morning, I found the book on my shelf: Ordinary Magic: Everyday Life as Spiritual Path. In this compilation, I opened to Driving Meditation by Kevin Berger and Todd Berger.


I knew when I was driving to yoga class that it was possible to combine driving and meditation. I knew, in fact, that it was extremely desirable to combine these two seemingly different skills into one seamless whole. Meditating as you are driving not only kills 2 birds with 1 stone (and kills zero pedestrians with one car) but effectively makes you both a better driver and a better meditator.

In case you are envisioning me driving down the highway with my eyes closed, there is no need to worry! Meditation doesn't necessarily involve looking inward. It can, of course. But meditation can also involve looking outward. The only constant in all forms and styles of meditation is maintaining awareness. You can become aware of the breath. You can gaze with awareness upon a landscape or a piece of art or a candle flame. You can perform a mindful eating meditation where the awareness is focused on enjoying a piece of fruit using all of the senses. There are truly endless variations and possibilities.

But back to driving!

In this essay, Driving Meditation, the authors discuss Samurai Awareness. This is creating a 360 degree awareness while you are moving through space. It is the awareness of a warrior. And it is also one of the fundamentals of safe, defensive driving. One must constantly assess the surroundings and be aware of every other vehicle, every tree, sign, pedestrian, animal, in every direction. In this way, driving is just another opportunity for you to wake up, to become more aware and more attuned to the world around you. In addition, this constant and vigilant awareness allows you respond easily to any and every situation that arises along your path. (Can you see how driving is just a metaphor for every activity you do???)

If you are like any other driver on the roads, you might occasionally become angry or anxious while driving. Practicing this Driving Meditation can help to counteract those feelings of rage and terror when other drivers behave in a manner we deem unsafe. Or homicidal. Just breathing deeply and maintaining that sense of pure awareness can help you allow the daily incidents and irritations to simply slide off your back. There is no need to take any of it personally. There is no need to hang onto any perceived insults or annoyances. There is no need to lean on your horn or scream obscenities. The flow of traffic on the road is like the flow of a river. As each experience, each momentary awareness arises, you only need to notice, respond perhaps, and then let it go.

Being fully present and aware of each moment as you drive can transform this very ordinary, daily experience into a spiritual practice. And at the same time, you can be confident that by maintaining your constant and vigilant awareness, you are making the roads a safer place. For yourself, for your loved ones, and for everybody.