As a Lyft driver, I once spent significant time out on the road—a setting rife with provocations and stressors.
Driving can feel like a constant challenge to employ instead of giving way to destructive emotions like impatience and frustration. Meditation can be difficult to practice when you’re navigating a vehicle (demanding as both activities are of your full attention)—try channeling all your senses into it, and you’ll likely plow over a pedestrian or end with your car in a ditch.
Navigating the road mindfully, though, doesn’t have to mean closing your eyes or adopting any of the other classic “meditative” stances. I think it involves something simpler: momentary detachment—both from everything that’s happening around you and from your own internal reactions as you watch from an ever so slight distance while they ebb and flow.
Here’s some of what I’ve learned about maintaining equanimity when out there on the stress-inducing road.
The importance of keeping in mind that sometimes there’s something we’re not seeing.
Driving down Market Street through downtown SF, I once noticed a number of pedestrians stopped inside the crosswalk in the middle of the street. They didn’t have the right of way; the light was red for them and green for us drivers who were trying to get through. Cars were honking.
For maybe a second my impulse was to add to the honk melee. Then I took a closer look and saw what was actually going on: a lady had dropped her bags, causing their contents to spill to the pavement. The people in the street were passersby who had run to help her pick them up.
Once they were finished, I noticed how they stood and raised their hands in apologetic gestures [to the
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