Meditate On The Move
Once, I saw a male driver yell at a female driver for having the headlights on at high-beam. I daresay she may have been wrong. That did not justify the yelling. She smiled and waved at him. As she drove away (with the headlights lowered), I caught a glimpse of him, sputtering over what could only have been classic Puneri insults. It was win-win. He let out his bile; she didn’t let go of her calm. She probably practised meditation on the move.
The only reasonable response to road rage is calm. In fact, it is pretty much the response to everything-rage. And calm doesn’t come easy. One sweats it out through agony, awareness of agony and hard practice.
Practice is important because practice is preparedness. The first step is deciding you want to remain calm in the face of boorishness / troubles / stress. The next step is to prepare for it. There are many ways to do this, even if you don’t have the time to sit in dhyan for any time during the day (although that is, by far, the best way).
Imagine we are driving out, or being driven out, to work or some place. Do we even realize what a miracle it is that we come back home in one piece? The road is abuzz with people rushing to and from business, all furrowed brows, stressed out. Who knows when the stress spills over and translates into an accident? Pray for each person that you see on the road, in that moment. Savor that brief feeling of exaltation. This is the effect of meditating on the go.
In a book on improving concentration, they outlined the following steps: Breathe in – 1, 2; Hold – 1, 2; Breathe out – 1, 2; Hold – 1, 2. One complete cycle takes eight seconds. They recommend a sequence of 11 such cycles: 88 seconds--less than one-and-a-half minutes!
Seeing oneself through the first sequence is the toughest because we want it to end. But once done--my, oh my! The calming effect lasts way longer than 88 seconds. Imagine your day punctuated with a few 88-second sequences. It would be a day of energy and efficiency; not to mention calm joy. And you can do it at your desk, in the office loo, or when someone is droning on at a meeting. I don’t have that book anymore, but the learning remained and helped enormously.
We know the body needs feeding. And we spend a considerable part of the day thinking of how we would delight our taste buds today. The mind needs feeding too. And it only needs a few 88-second cycles each day.
Thich Nhat Hanh, the Vietnamese poet-monk, suggests ‘walking meditation’: As you walk, think to yourself, ‘Breathing in, good morning birds; Breathing out, thank you for your songs’.
He asks you to mindfully expel stale air out of your lungs. He also encourages gently thanking the solid earth as you walk, or consciously thinking any grateful thought that works for you. Mindfulness. Gratitude. Two important words.
It works so beautifully. Take this capsule of peace a few times a day. The body responds immediately, and then the mind follows.