It has occurred to me that the act of driving can be both the greatest source of stress in my life, or one of the best opportunities to develop a practice of compassion, relaxation and offering. Being the kind of guy that prefers the latter to the former, I have developed a driving practice to enhance those qualities.
The basic theory is this: when you are on the road, driving in traffic you have unlimited space to give others. Ironically, there is only very limited space to TAKE, because taking space usually means speeding up, driving dangerously and aggressively. Giving space however is simple. It means slowing down. Doing that creates as much space as you need to then give away to someone else. It’s almost magic.
Every time you are driving, you can open space and give it to others almost constantly. If someone wants in, let them in. If someone is waiting to cross the road, stop and let them cross. If someone is tailgating you, slow down so that they can pass. Let people have the speed they want to have.
Start doing this and you realize that it is only a small step to actually inviting people to occupy the space you open for them. Once people realize that you are actually offering them the chance to go ahead, they will gladly wave at you, flash their lights in appreciation or nod and smile. That feeds you soul. You can drive all day in traffic and arrive where you are going refreshed because you have been doing nothing but giving all day long.
This sets up a nice positive feedback loop. The guy that cuts you off and speeds ahead of you is actually receiving the gift you are creating for him. Slow down, back off and you will become more relaxed and he won’t be so uptight. There is no race for him to win, and so the competition evaporates.
The woman on her cell phone weaving in and out of traffic needs space because her attention is divided. Giving her all kinds of space is a gift and keeps you safe too. She stops weaving because things are not so tight around her.
It sounds bizarre, but now, on the rare occasions when I actually have to drive in heavy traffic I look forward to it, and to the results of giving unconditionally to those who need more of what I have to offer.