Maintaining mindfulness on the road?

Casual discussion amongst spiritual friends.

Maintaining mindfulness on the road?

Postby alan » Sun May 02, 2010 4:11 am

I'm still burned out from a long drive. Driving leaves me brain-dead and dull minded. Has anyone found a way to deal with the hassles of traffic and the long hours of tedium behind the wheel without going soft in the head?
Thanks.
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Re: Maintaining mindfulness on the road?

Postby Sobeh » Sun May 02, 2010 5:19 am

It's a matter of hourly stretching beside the road for me.
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Re: Maintaining mindfulness on the road?

Postby Ben » Sun May 02, 2010 5:21 am

Hi alan

my main meditation is vedananupassana: observation of sensation. I can do this on the road by observing the sensation in my feet (clutch, break, accelerator), hands (on the steering wheel, gear-stick), and other body parts such as pressure on the bum, stiffness-tension or whatever in the shoulders, back, upper arms, neck, face - whatever. Vedananupassana can also be practiced in conjunction with the range of emotional responses to traffic by observing the dominant sensation that arises with those emotive states.
And I guess you could always practice metta bhavana, extending metta to yourselves and other drivers. Anapana-sati you might find a bit subtle while driving.
They're just some thoughts for you to consider.
Whatever you decide, all the very best with your meditative travels!
metta

Ben
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in mountain clefts and chasms,
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Taṃ nadīhi vijānātha:
sobbhesu padaresu ca,
saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

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Re: Maintaining mindfulness on the road?

Postby Goofaholix » Sun May 02, 2010 9:19 am

alan wrote:I'm still burned out from a long drive. Driving leaves me brain-dead and dull minded. Has anyone found a way to deal with the hassles of traffic and the long hours of tedium behind the wheel without going soft in the head?
Thanks.


I'd say a bit of reflection on death and dying wouldn't go amiss. Did you realise that throughout those longs hours you were one mistake away from death?

Consider that it is inevitable that you will one day die, you have no way of knowing when that will be, then ask yourself how you should live right now.

You spend the time behind the wheel brain dead because you don't value the time, you want to be doing something different, so here is your chance to work with the root cause of suffering, the craving for things to be other than they are.

I find it really helpful to notice when my attention slips away when driving, and notice when I bring it back, just keep bringing your attention back to what you are doing. I sometimes feel a bit alarmed at how much my attention drifts away when driving, so driving is a good way to develop mindfulness, and the bonus is you just might live longer too.
"Proper effort is not the effort to make something particular happen. It is the effort to be aware and awake each moment." - Ajahn Chah
"When we see beyond self, we no longer cling to happiness. When we stop clinging, we can begin to be happy." - Ajahn Chah
"Know and watch your heart. It’s pure but emotions come to colour it." — Ajahn Chah
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Re: Maintaining mindfulness on the road?

Postby Annapurna » Sun May 02, 2010 9:58 am

alan wrote:I'm still burned out from a long drive. Driving leaves me brain-dead and dull minded. Has anyone found a way to deal with the hassles of traffic and the long hours of tedium behind the wheel without going soft in the head?
Thanks.


Our brain works in cycles.

For ~45 minutes our attention will be high, after that it will drop dramatically, and the brain needs a break to recover. I can always observe that with my students, they get total black-outs then.

That is why our school hours (here) last 45 minutes.

Both teachers and children need it.

After a break of 5-15 minutes the brain is able to go back into attention mode again. .

If I were you, I would take a break every 45 minutes, stop the car, get out, stretch, walk around a bit, let your eyes rest while looking at nature, (if possible) or stay inside of the car, lean back and close your eyes and recover. Eat and drink something regularly too, to keep your blood sugar constant, -eat something light, perhaps some fruit and some non greasy protein. Your trip will be much more enjoyable, perhaps even plan to visit a sight worth spending some more time at.

It may appear like a loss of time, but in the end, it doesn't amount to much, and the toll you have to pay isn't so high. This toll may be lives, if your brain can't react quickly enough...and you don't need that.


Best wishes, and pleasant driving,

metta,

Anna
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Re: Maintaining mindfulness on the road?

Postby alan » Mon May 03, 2010 4:16 am

Thank you Anna, that is excellent advise. I've been doing two hours or longer, in order to maximize time between eating. But 45 minutes sounds much better.
Goof: thanks for your input. I'm driving a 26 ft. motorhome, and am constantly aware of the (stupid, distracted) drivers around me. The constant attention is what wears me out. I'm brain dead AFTER the experience. <(had a near-death experience on a motorcycle in my teens and have since become very conservative, if not in politics, certainly in driving. In fact, the danger of the road is always at a forefront in my mind. Maybe that is why I don't enjoy it)>
Ben: Sending out good feelings to those above mentioned drivers is good advise!
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Re: Maintaining mindfulness on the road?

Postby Goofaholix » Mon May 03, 2010 4:33 am

alan wrote:Goof: thanks for your input. I'm driving a 26 ft. motorhome, and am constantly aware of the (stupid, distracted) drivers around me. The constant attention is what wears me out. I'm brain dead AFTER the experience. <(had a near-death experience on a motorcycle in my teens and have since become very conservative, if not in politics, certainly in driving. In fact, the danger of the road is always at a forefront in my mind. Maybe that is why I don't enjoy it)>


Sounds like you've got the opposite problem and are and carrying too much of a burden, so my first advise isn't going to be much help. Mindfulness is energising not draining, see if you can teach yourself to be relaxed and attentive at the same time.

Driving a 26 ft. motorhome is not something I've ever contemplated and I'm sure I'd find it hard work if I tried, I think you are doing very well considering but if you don't enjoy it maybe it's time to think of an alternative.
"Proper effort is not the effort to make something particular happen. It is the effort to be aware and awake each moment." - Ajahn Chah
"When we see beyond self, we no longer cling to happiness. When we stop clinging, we can begin to be happy." - Ajahn Chah
"Know and watch your heart. It’s pure but emotions come to colour it." — Ajahn Chah
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Re: Maintaining mindfulness on the road?

Postby alan » Mon May 03, 2010 6:26 am

Maybe I can move to beautiful New Zealand?
I've always wanted to go there.
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Re: Maintaining mindfulness on the road?

Postby mikenz66 » Mon May 03, 2010 6:43 am

alan wrote:Maybe I can move to beautiful New Zealand?
I've always wanted to go there.

You're welcome.
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But we do have a few mindless drivers here too...
Image

Mike
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Re: Maintaining mindfulness on the road?

Postby christopher::: » Mon May 03, 2010 7:03 am

mikenz66 wrote:
But we do have a few mindless drivers here too...
Image



Ouch!

You've received good advice, alan.

What do you listen to while driving? I find that listening to my favorite music and/or dhamma talks makes driving time go much more easily and smoothly...

:smile:
"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
~post by Ben, Jul 02, 2009
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Re: Maintaining mindfulness on the road?

Postby alan » Tue May 04, 2010 2:15 am

Jazz, Jazz, and Jazz. Good Dhamma talks when I can find them.
It may just be the nature of the awkward beast I'm piloting. But staring out at traffic just dulls my mind. If I had my way I'd never drive anywhere ever again.
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Re: Maintaining mindfulness on the road?

Postby Nibbida » Wed May 05, 2010 12:38 am

Like other's have posted above, I focus on the sense of touch, such as my hands on the wheel. I also focus on vision (which is a good object when driving). When my mind wanders, I bring it back to vision each time. I've been meditating eyes open lately, which has helped.

I love wishing metta to other drivers. I call it "driving-kindness." Last summer I did a week-long retreat at IMS. I had to drive through New York City on my way home, the world's capital of cranky, aggressive drivers. I thought it would be a buzz-kill. But actually it was a great chance for metta practice.
"Dispositions of the mind, like limbs of the body, acquire strength by exercise." --Thomas Jefferson

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