By Jonathan Kaplan, Ph.D.
When my first book was released, I did some promotion videos on mindfulness, including a subway meditation and "mindfulness vs. road rage." (If you're interested in the videos, they are available here: UM channel on YouTube.) In particular, the idea of using mindfulness as a way to manage commuting stress interested many of the journalists with whom I spoke. While this practice can be quite helpful, I've found that extending loving-kindness to other drivers works quite well too. Just like us, they want to move quickly and get to where they're going. And, as Sharon noted in a talk recently, if we really think about, we are the traffic. That's right. If it weren't for you and me and everyone else around us, we'd be driving very quickly. Yet, because we're all on this road together, we happen to be stuck temporarily. Try to remember this next time you're in a (traffic) jam, and see if you can wish that your fellow drivers be happy, too. And, yes, that includes the guy who just cut you off.
As a complete aside, I feel somehow obliged to reference my daily meditation given the nature of the challenge, so here goes. This evening, I did a vipassana meditation for 15 minutes. It was more relaxing than usual, as I simply noted the rising of my abdomen on each inhalation and the falling on each exhalation. Periodically, my mind did wander to consider work-related questions, but nothing too provocative or stressful.
Tomorrow is the last official day of the challenge. Hopefully, you've been able to practice regularly. If not, please keep trying. Just like we return attention to the object of meditation during a sit, so we need to return to sitting itself when we've wandered away from the cushion. The same basic instructions apply: (1) no judgments (they're just mind tricks anyway) and (2) begin again.