Truly Being in Traffic


Next time you’re in a car and the traffic’s not moving, can you be curious about how to use this slowed-down time to your benefit? Even though you have a destination, and want to get there, you can use the opportunity to transform your experience with gratitude.

Turn off the music or news. Take a moment and notice if you’re having thoughts about being late or missing something important. Does your body feel relaxed or is there tightness?

Allow your thoughts to pass through without attaching to them. Pay attention without judgment. Just notice what’s happening in the mind. Thoughts like, "I wish this traffic would get moving!" or "I hate this!" or "I should’ve left more time!" can be recognized, and acknowledged without getting caught up in them.

After a few moments, shift your focus and settle into your breath wherever it is experienced in the body. It may be felt in the nose, throat, chest or belly. Simply notice the inhalation and exhalation without trying to control it. Continue to let thoughts pass through, and maintain your focus on your breath, with your eyes open, remembering you are in the car (especially if you’re in the driver’s seat!).

Notice any shift in how the body feels. And remember you can focus this way at other times of stress and challenge.

Enjoy the possibility that being late for appointments, missing a meeting or an airplane can be transformed into a gift when we live in the present, breathing with awareness. And please, always drive with care.

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Try this the next time you are aware that you feel stressed and want to quiet down the inner chaos quickly. Walking, driving, standing still or sitting, quietly say while breathing in, "I am breathing in, and I am at peace." Say while breathing out, "I am breathing out, and I am at peace." Focus attention on what happens. If you become distracted, simply return your focus to your words and notice what's happening within. Repeat until you notice a shift, and are ready to stop. The cells of the body receive thought as instruction, and they are willing followers to whatever we think. Saying we are at peace allows the body to shift from feeling rushed around, to slowing down, so we can feel quieter inside. With the goal of maintaining balance in all things, use this practice with care, and let awareness be your guide. Sometimes this practice is helpful, and other times, it can be used to distract us from exploring mistaken beliefs that keep us rushing around. Remembering awareness is a gift to yourself and others.


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