I just finished a 30-minute meditation.
I packed my bag and got in my car. As I drove to work, a car began tailgating me. I’ve always had a natural tendency to resist being pushed. Yes, I can be a bit stubborn-headed and ego-driven, so when someone is pushing or demanding something of me, everything resists inside. I was doing the speed limit. I went a bit faster. Nothing changed.
The main reason I started meditation and yoga was my road rage.
I hated bad driving, but more than that, I hated my responses. I didn’t enjoy getting upset, but I also couldn’t help it. In my mind, things weren’t right, and bad drivers needed to change. Meditation and yoga helped. I’ve learned to create more space between life events and my reactions to them, but this is still a work in progress.
So there I was, on the road with a tailgater, trying to bring back the peace I cultivated shortly before in meditation. But now, it was gone. The person eventually passed me. I flashed my headlights in anger. I even thought I would try and return the person’s rudeness towards me. I lost the battle for the mind.
The next evening, a similar situation happened. I felt like maybe since I was leaving a couple minutes later for work, this somehow put me in the cross-hairs of the city’s worst drivers. Either way, I decided to be more “intentional” this time by creating and keeping the “space.” Not physical space, since it was a single-lane road and there was no where to go, but space between what was happening and my reaction to it.
I decided to observe, but when you’re driving, there’s only so much observing one can do of a particular driver. So I observed my emotions, and I thought of what teachers have said about the nature of reality. I let it “be,” no matter what would come. The irony of this second situation was that I didn’t meditate before going to class.
I understand the importance of saying that all of life is practice, but I need to experience these “trigger-situations” in order to apply what’s been learned. What’s done on the yoga mat or meditation cushion needs to transfer into everyday life, or each should be an extension of the other. It shouldn’t be a separate, life-compartment of “me time.” It’s possible to build a fantasy world, a temporary escape from life, and the calm may only last as long as the session does.
For me, the key is being “intentional” with practice in all of life. While there is something to be said for the unintentional things we create, it is the intentional living of our lives in awareness, without compartmentalization, that creates lasting peace for everyone.
Author: Matthew Scheffer
Apprentice Editor: Staci Lerch-Moist / Editor: Travis May
Image: Moyan Brenn/Flickr