Reflection & Action: If you drive, you will be very familiar with red lights and stop signs. It’s a sign of our preoccupation with getting places fast, that those lights and signs often seem to be working against us and in favor of the opposing traffic.
When you are out on the highway, you are sure to find yourself stuck behind a slow moving vehicle of one sort or another. Slow, of course, is a relative concept. When you are in a rush, slow may mean that the unit ahead is ‘just’ driving the speed limit.
With more multi lane highways and passing lanes, slower moving traffic is less of a problem than it was during the days of single lane highways and Air Stream trailer convoys. Still, for most of us, patience is not a strong point in our high-speed non-stop world.
It doesn’t have to be that way. In his essay, Driving Meditation, Thich Nhat Hanh describes travel delays (like red lights and stop signs) as gifts. He suggests these delays serve to keep us from rushing ahead of ourselves. They return us to the present moment. In a similar vein, apparently some of the traffic lights in Delhi, India, have the word ‘Relax’ written across the red light, rather than the old British version which read ‘Stop’.
It’s a real mind shift to embrace delays and slow downs in a positive light. But give it a try the next time you hit the road. Who knows what you might discover when you slow down enough to appreciate the journey just as much as the destination?
Quote Of The Week: The idea is not to slow life down, but to calm it down. -Jim Tunney
Summer Reading Bookshelf: In recent months, I’ve caught several online interviews and articles featuring Arianna Huffington. I’m looking forward to dipping into her book: Thrive – The Third Metric To Redefining Success & Creating A Life of Well-Being, Wisdom & Wonder. Harmony Books 2014.
I live in an area of the city where trains frequently cross. It always seems they’re crossing when I am in a hurry to get home or get somewhere else. My level of frustration typically increases with each passing car on the tracks. For some reason, one day I had a novel in the van. I picked it up as I was waiting for the train. Instead of the wait seeming like an eternity, the five minutes the train took to pass flew by. I found myself wishing I had more time to read my book. Now, I try to keep something interesting in the vehicle to read so my waiting time is much more enjoyable.
– Catherine G.
I had a flash the other day that I want to start a practice of sending love to every person I see when I’m driving – the pedestrians, other motorists. As I immediately put the notion into motion with a person who was crossing the street in front of me, I found my heart softening and my breathing changing. My body grew more relaxed and even my head felt different. I’m aiming for it to become a constant, reflexive habit, and believe it’s going to make a difference in my little world and in the larger world as well: gentleness and compassion rather than hurry and self-centeredness.
– Corinne A.