How many times have you arrived at a destination only to realize you have no memory of the drive there? Distracted driving is a dangerous habit and it’s more than cell phone use or changing radio stations while the vehicle is in motion. Applied Mindfulness is the practice of being present in the moment and fully aware of your surroundings. Why not add the practice of Mindful Driving to your list of to-dos in 2020?
Focus your attention on your route and surroundings. Be aware of the road itself and of cars, trucks, cyclists, and pedestrians. Observe your surroundings, but don’t become mentally entangled in circumstances over which you have no control (like the aggressive driving of others on the road).
Listen to the sounds of driving: your car’s tires making contact with the road, the revving of your car’s engine, the clicking of your car’s turn signal, and other cars around you. Your radio, books on tape, podcasts, and playlists can all serve as a distraction while driving.
Take slow, deliberate breaths, using your diaphragm to draw breath in and out. If you find yourself dwelling on any one particular thought, acknowledge the thought, let it go, and refocus on the present and your immediate surroundings.
While we can’t totally eliminate hazards on the road through our own actions, we can practice behaviors to make ourselves better drivers: practicing mindful driving may decrease the risk that you cause a car crash and increase your ability to respond calmly to conditions which might normally induce anxiety, like heavy traffic or aggressive drivers.