“Sometimes, I feel the fear of uncertainty stinging clear
And I can’t help but ask myself how much I’ll let the fear
Take the wheel and steer
It’s driven me before
And it seems to have a vague, haunting mass appeal
But lately I am beginning to find
That I should be the one behind the wheel
Whatever tomorrow brings
I’ll be there with open arms and open eyes
Whatever tomorrow brings
I’ll be there, I’ll be there”
We’re coasting, cruising along, floating down an endless carpet of pavement, lifted by blue skies. The soundtrack of our life blares through the speakers. We feel free, alive – ready for wherever the road takes us.
Sounds like a dream joyride, right? So do our daily commutes (from work and appointments to visits and road trips) ever feel this great…or are they filled with clenched fists and cursing?
If stress is built up (versus released) when driving, it may be a reflection of how we feel about the real-life journey we’re on. Let’s tap into this. Maybe we’re deeply frustrated, scared or disappointed. Our jobs, our relationships, our health, how we spend our days…are we fueled by the path we’re on? Or is there an inner roadblock that is running us down to “E” every day? What is stalling us?
Let’s try to imagine the exterior of the car as our Ego, and the interior of the car (with ourselves seated inside) as the Driver.
The Ego, like a car, is the outer body or “shell” of who we think we are and what others see: the slow driver vs. the fast driver, the Mini Van vs. the Pickup Truck; the Ferrari vs. the Beater. We often get caught up in the model/status comparison; but we must remind ourselves the Ego is merely a vehicle of the SOUL inside.
Yes, our souls offer us our truest transportation at any given moment…beyond our body, our car, our boxed-in society. What if we were driven by our dreams? Our creativity? Our authenticity? The practice of driving can be an everyday reminder of this and help us re-center right here, right now.
So who’s ready to shift gears this year? Put the brakes down on the monkey mind and rev up our true greatness?! Then read up on this manual guide: 10 tips to let our SOUL steer the way.
- Go with the flow of traffic (stay steady, calm, collected)
So often we’re all driving carelessly or on “autopilot.” Driving is actually a very complex dance of multiple intuitive and reactive actions. The test is being able to balance hyper-awareness with relaxation.
What if we treated every road outing as a meditative test-drive? A mini road trip away from the endless tasks and drama in the “plays of our lives?” Imagine our expectations, stress and worries soaring out the back open windows like particles of dust that disappear…left unseen in the grander realm of things.
This is our time to embody our best flow; neither thinking or feeling too fast, nor too slow. We’re in the moment and feel Zen even as cars float around in every direction, drifting along with us on this sea of change.
- Accept the traffic jams when we hit them (and breathe)
Traffic jams are a big cosmic reminder that we don’t always control what happens (or doesn’t happen) to us. However, when we look inside, we do indeed have the control(s) over how we REACT.
We all could be grateful for being forced to pause every so often. Practice some deep breathing techniques and learn how to get a grip…because this is LIFE. Events or people will stall us sometimes, leaving us feeling stuck or anxious; but we know we will survive and get through it. Let’s be patient; let’s be present.
- Focus on the ride, not the destination
Let’s think beyond getting from point A to B. Sometimes we’re too angry (or excited) about the destination that we don’t notice or tune into the bumps, turns and surroundings around us on the way. We sometimes obsess about checking our rearview mirrors (like the PAST) versus enjoying moving forward. It’s no different than when we flit from one social media site or blog to another in seconds without ever digesting and staying present with one thing at a time.
Let’s work on taking our dreams and to-dos one day at time versus soaring ahead to the next “best” attraction.
- Switch up our routes (and enjoy the scenery more)
Let us always be open to switch up our routes or head to somewhere we’ve never been before. Something as simple as new scenery can have an enormous ripple effect. Take side streets. Head to the beach spontaneously for a walk. Mix it up between city streets and country roads. Head to a new part of town or to a nostalgic stomping ground.
Our drives can be a time to reconnect with Nature outside while always being seated to our true nature within. Keep the cell phones at bay (please) and notice the abundant beauty that is always there outside our comfort zone.
When our hearts are open and flexible we can more often explore what calls to us.
- Be compassionate towards other drivers on the road
The aviator-wearing speed demon we just flipped off? The rusty minivan we flew around in a huff and cut off? Remember that every driver is ourselves – human and perfectly imperfect. No one of us has any idea what is going on in that person’s life. Maybe he/she just lost someone they loved to death, is depressed, got terrible news, or is abused. Maybe they are headed to somewhere or someone they’re dreading. We can’t know.
So let’s commit to drive with compassion. Brake off the judgement. Be aware of our blind spots to others on the road.
- Grant ourselves license to find our own route (not our parents’, siblings’, friends’ or significant others’)
The beauty of solo drives is that we are each in our own safe and special bubble. A place for our most honest, authentic feelings and thoughts to float freely. Oftentimes we’re driving to places that appease others…jobs, visits, appointments, places we don’t even want to go, but “have” to.
What if we actually lived life the way we wanted? Chose our path, no matter how far or long it takes, without others’ approval? It’s time to take the road less traveled – and own it.
- Keep fueled up, take rest stops, and be aware of the signs
We need to make sure our tanks are at least ½ full with any venture, be it short or long. We need to take care of ourselves – both body and mind. Let’s rest when our body wants to rest. Learn to say “no” when we are feeling fueled for every offer or occasion.
So how do we stop pushing, striving and accepting everything that comes across our path? We need to learn how to tune into our internal engine (Are we hungry? Thirsty? Need to relax and stop the goal-getting for today?) Let’s see what feels right and respect that need. Go ahead – relish a night in of tranquility without work or others to worry about.
Let’s always be okay with slowing down or taking full rest stops (without apologies).
- Make time to Tune In
Think of your time in the car as your own personal sponge. Then think of all the little blocks of time and vast opportunities when we can listen to exactly what we want or even learn something. Oftentimes we choose to let incessant advertisements and radio songs we’ve heard billions of times feed our minds (like junk food).
But what if we tuned into things that actually light us up? Let’s choose calming music, a nostalgic throwback CD, a podcast or an eBook. We can get our daily dose of career curiosities, relationships or a topic that’s been on our minds…whatever we please. This is where technology can be a beautiful tool (unlike checking Facebook statuses at stop signs).
So, let’s view our commutes as a catharsis. It’s our special space for ourselves on our personal journey.
- If passengers are in the car, make them feel invited and enlightened on their journey with us
While a solo drive does good for the soul, remember that we are never truly alone. Share the adventure with someone you love or are getting to know. Make your passengers feel safe and secure with you, both physically and emotionally.
Keep conversations honest and open-hearted. Laugh. Reminisce. Ask your fellow traveling companions honest, raw questions if you feel unsettled or need closure on a topic. Or simply enjoy the beautiful music and silence with one another. Driving 40-70+ mph can often make conversations feel more in-flow and less forced.
The open road ahead is there to help us evaluate where we’re going…and where our relationships and bonds are going. Let’s reconnect, one mile at a time.
- Always savor coming “back home” to our truest selves
Once again, let’s have every drive provide a space for us to relax back into our own thoughts and feelings.
When we park our cars, let’s close our eyes and sink in, regardless of where we are. We will open our doors with gratitude and greet whatever and whoever awaits us. Our egos are left parked at the rest stop. Our hearts are grounded…and expanded. We’re ready. We’re “home.”