Meditating in the Now
Ones perception of what meditation is can differ from person to person. Meditation itself comes in many different types, styles, and traditions. So, it is no wonder that meditation can be misunderstood and seem confusing.
For me, meditation is all about "the now". Being in the now, with no preconceived thoughts or ideas. That means very little thinking if any, and complete attention to the moment as it exists. No judgements, no categorizing, no falling back on what we think we know. Just pure experience.
This may seem simple, but it take practice to get to that state. We have to learn to practice pulling our attention away from our concepts and thoughts and back to the current moment and the direct experience of that moment.
One way I can do this is by the direct experience of driving. Keeping all of my attention on the current moment and the direct experience of driving my car. Why does this work so well?
Many meditators use their experience of breathing to center their attention in the now. Breathing is special because it is something we can do unconsciously and then take conscious control of when we want to. We breathe without thinking about it all day, but when we jump into the water we can take a purposeful deep breath and hold it. So, breathing can engage both the conscious and unconscious mind, switching back and forth between the two as we need to.
Driving works in much the same way. Most of the time we drive without really thinking consciously about it. It is second nature to us, so we can carry on a conversation, sing a song, or calculate mathematical equations while driving. If an animal jumps out in front of us, we snap back into conscious driving and brake or steer to avoid hitting it.
By using my time driving as my meditation I seek to bring my attention into the moment and fully participate in a conscious way with that moment. My mind will wander and I will practice bringing my attention back to the direct experience of driving in the reality of the current moment.
The feel of the wheel in my hands, the sounds of the road, the speed of the other cars, the feeling of the air on my face. This also calms me and makes me less susceptible to anger and road rage. It keeps me focused on driving and eliminates distractions, and so makes me a safer driver.
Best of all it makes my drive enjoyable and contributes to my serenity. I can use the time I would otherwise occupy with wandering thoughts and daydreams and put it to good, positive use.
Give driving meditation a try. You might be surprised at how calm and focused it can make you feel.
To learn how to put a driving meditation practice into action read Solan McClean's "Learning to Drive into the Now:PRND" a practical guide to developing and maintaining a Mindfulness Driving Meditation practice.