Driven to be mindful

Yesterday I went to an alumni drop-in session for the Compassion Cultivation Training (CCT) course I took last year.  During the session, the moderator asked participants to journal about various ways we have used mindfulness this past year and goals for the next year. Upon reflection, I was glad to see that I have taken several steps toward more fully integrating mindfulness into my life.  I have begun to put my phone away  much more often. Out of sight is not quite out of mind,  but it is much easier to prevent myself from getting distracted with the future or the past and to stay in the present moment. I also have attended a few sitting meditation events locally.  I realized how much I have been craving to start a daily meditation practice and have set the intention to begin doing so in the coming year.  When we shared with the larger group, one of my peers mentioned that she sets an intention every morning about her day.  I loved this idea and already have set my morning alarm to remind me to set a mindful intention.

Interestingly, as I sat and listened to how others have been integrating mindfulness, I came to the realization that I actually have been utilizing mindfulness and compassion regularly while driving since taking the class. During my CCT class, we spoke quite a bit about the usefulness of using mindfulness while driving. For example, my teacher noted that once she realized that getting upset and stressed while stuck in a traffic jam did not get her to the destination faster and only led to suffering in herself. I realize that I now start to notice when I am getting upset about running late and much more often remind myself that I will get to the destination at the same time and I do have control over my emotional state when I arrive. This is when I will take a few deep breaths to lower my heart rate. We also spoke about how angry we would get at drivers who would cut us off or drive unsafely. We discussed how we could choose to get angry and irritated with these drivers or we could practice compassion toward others. We could realize that sometimes we are that driver and we often have very justifiable (or we justify to ourselves) reasons for our actions. Instead of reacting with a negative response, we can instead react with curiosity. I realize that I often will make a neutral comment in response to these drivers. “That car is driving fast” in a neutral tone affects me much less than thinking “what a jerk!” Instead of arriving to my destinations angry and frazzled, I have been able to drive much more calmly, and I imagine, also safely. I wanted to share this realization with others to help give you some examples of how to integrate mindfulness into your daily lives and also to keep myself accountable to continue working on these skills. Mindfulness is like a muscle. It improves the more we practice. That is while I encourage you all to be driven to drive more mindfully!

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