Americans spend a lot of time driving. According to ABC polls the average commuter spends 100 minutes behind the wheel. People with kids spend 104 minutes while drivers without kids spend 77 minutes daily. That works out to be 25 days driving every year! That is a lot of time we can use. Think about how much happier we can all be if we use those 100 minutes to meditate!
It doesn’t have to be anything elaborate. Just spend the time focusing on breathing. Count your in and out breaths. Of course don’t forget to pay attention to the road! Most drives tend to be an ordeal. We have places to be….now. It only makes the drive stressful; needlessly so. When we drive we only have to drive. We are not at our destination so why should our minds be there already?
Those 100 minutes can be minutes of peace or of worry. It can be family time or a stressful time. It is our decision. We can let our minds wonder to our destination before we get there, we create stress for ourselves when we could simply enjoy the scenery flowing around our cars. Driving gives us a daily opportunity to practice focus and living in the present moment.
Driving offers many calls to mindfulness. Stop signs and lights remind us to pause and breathe. We have no choice but to sit there for a moment, so why fume? Just smile at the stoplight and thank it for reminding you to be alive right now. Traffic jams also help remind us to be present. Again, we can either get needlessly angry (we can’t do anything about a traffic jam) or we can use the time constructively to practice the art of mindfulness. We get to enjoy the beauty of the world around us, even in a city. There is always something beautiful nudging us to enjoy life. It does us well to turn off the radio and cell phone.
Those 100 minutes can become something we look forward to everyday. They can become minutes of peaceful breathing and reflection that help us live a peaceful life. Next time you drive, turn off everything and simply drive with your breathing. Count and feel each breath. Notice the world whizzing by with a fresh, loving set of eyes. Smile at each stoplight. Smile at your fellow drivers as they pass. They may be feeling stressed or simply enjoying the drive like you are. It does us little good to spend 100 minutes fretting over the day or getting angry and frustrated over things we cannot control. It does us little good to constantly talk on the cellphone when we have a rare chance to be alone with ourselves.
So how will you spend your 25 days of driving?