Thursday, 4 May 2017

Let your body do the driving

Zen in the art of driving. Become one with the car.

My car is an ageing Mazda MX5 (Miata). The principal virtue of this car is that it is fun to drive. But listening to the radio, mostly depressing news about things over which I have absolutely no influence, I am not feeling the car or deriving the pleasure that is to be had from one of the best driver's cars on the planet. One day I decided not to turn on the radio.

Then I applied one of the lessons I learned long ago from a wise person. Put your attention on the place where the working surfaces meet. I experimented with trying to be aware of where the front wheels made contact with the road. After a while of making this effort I observed several things. I was aware of my body in the driver's seat, my hands on the wheel. I was also more aware of other road users and what was happening up ahead. I was driving with more attention and almost certainly more safely. In addition I started to enjoy the car and the sensation of driving with precision.

Very quickly my mind started to wander, thinking about these things and other quite unrelated things, even about writing this blog post. I refreshed the effort of sensing where the front wheels made contact with the road. Gradually a sense of peace started to settle on me, as the continued gentle effort to be present pushed other thoughts out of the way.

One might imagine that thought is essential for driving, but if it is then it is a very bodily form of thought. The thoughts that kept intruding had nothing to do with what was happening on the road.

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