You have many opportunities to practice mindfulness during the day. One of the best opportunities most people don’t think about is the morning commute. That’s right -mindful driving is a real thing, and a great way to expand your practice.
Mindful driving is a mindfulness activity, not a meditation practice. Don’t ever try to do mindfulness meditation while behind the wheel, even while stuck in a traffic jam, and never, ever close your eyes while driving. That warning aside, here are some helpful tips for driving mindfully.
1.) Turn off or silence your phone
Just like it does during the rest of the day, your phone is likely to interrupt you and ruin your focus while you’re trying to drive mindfully. It’s a great way to be distracted! Turn it off or put it on silent until you get to your destination. Nothing that comes through will be so important that it can’t wait.
2.) Turn off the music
Music is also a distraction. The only sounds you want around you while you’re practicing mindful driving are your breathing and traffic noises. I have done this more and more over the last few months and it really has helped me gain more clarity for the day.
3.) Slow down
Drive under or at the speed limit instead of rushing to get to your destination. Notice the difference in your body and your stress levels.
4.) Do a mindfulness pause before and after you drive
Doing one before driving will help you focus your mind on the task before you, rather than what you just did or plan to do at your destination. Doing one after driving will help you decompress and return your focus to other matters.
5.) Pay attention to your body
Give your body the attention it deserves while you’re driving. Where’s the stress, the tension? Do you clench your jaw at red lights? Is lunch not sitting right? Is that spot on your foot bothering you again? Maybe you should go to the doctor with it. And so on.
6.) Pay attention to other vehicles and your surroundings
Most importantly, devote your attention to what’s going on around you. Practice developing awareness of everything that’s going on around you and your vehicle as you drive, from other drivers who are being unsafe to the feel of the road under your tires. This will not only enhance your mindfulness practice, but it could also save your life.
Practice these tips for a few weeks and see how well they improve both your driving and your mindfulness practice!