The average American spends 52.2 minutes driving to and from work everyday. That’s 26 minutes you could be using to prepare for your day with a meditation and another 26 minutes on the way back from work to relax and destress with mindful practice.
But is it dangerous to meditate in the car? Should you meditate while driving?
The short answer is yes, you absolutely can meditate while driving. While not all forms of meditation can be practiced safely while driving, the simplest and safest way to meditate in the car is by being more aware and mindful.
Is it safe to meditate while driving?
Yes, it’s absolutely safe to meditate while you drive. Now you might not want to close your eyes and chant in the driver’s seat, but I think you already knew that.
The amazing thing about mindfulness practice is that you can bring it into just about anything you do from walking to cooking, talking, and yes even driving.
Focusing your awareness more deeply into the present moment, might actually make you a better driver. Being lost in thought and distracted is a great way to get yourself in trouble while driving, and mindful practice does the opposite of that.
By bringing yourself more fully in the present not only will you reap the mental benefits that meditation has to offer, but you’ll be a more conscientious driver. You might be more distracted listening to a podcast or the radio than you would be meditating in the car.
Mindful driving is quite literally the opposite of dangerous, so don’t think that by meditating you’ll be taking your focus off the road. Instead you’ll be focusing more on the drive and all the sensations that arise throughout the trip.
You don’t need a self driving car to meditate while driving
You might think that you need to have a fully automated or electric vehicle to be able to have the luxury of meditating in the car. Thankfully, meditation in the car is not just for those lucky individuals with self driving vehicles.
You can bring mindfulness practice into the drive itself without impairing any of your driving abilities. Mindfulness won’t make it more difficult to navigate the road because in mindful meditation your focus is fully on what you’re doing. It’s no different from regular driving. All you’re doing differently is setting the intention to be fully present while you do it.
Even if you did have a self driving car you’d still need to keep your hands on the wheel and pay attention, so this really wouldn’t help you in any way.
What type of meditation is best for driving?
The best type of meditation to practice while driving is the simplest and easiest form of meditation: mindfulness meditation.
Mindfulness meditation is the practice of observing any and all sensations, thoughts, and emotions that arise without judgement. Mindfulness is just the practice of increasing your overall awareness. This includes awareness of sights, sounds, feelings, breathing, and thoughts.
Driving can be a great opportunity to practice mindfulness in a new setting. In the car things that I become aware of include:
- the way the steering wheel feels on my hands
- the sound of the engine purring
- my own anxieties or frustrations
- the seat beneath me
- the way the road looks as I drive
- things outside the car I’d usually not notice
Another type of meditation that is great for driving is transcendental meditation. Transcendental meditation is the practice of focusing in on one sound in your environment. Anytime you find yourself lost in thought you simply bring your attention back to the sound of your choice.
This could be focusing on the sound of the engine, the tires on the road, or the A/C or heat running through your car’s vents.
> see my article “7 Best Types Of Meditation: Which Is Best For You?”
What types of meditation should I avoid while driving?
This might be self explanatory, but any type of meditation that involves closing your eyes or visualizing something else should not be practiced while driving.
Any type of guided meditation, specifically ones that require closing your eyes just won’t work for the car unfortunately.
Visualization meditations are also not a good idea as they can become distracting even if you keep your eyes on the road.
It’s best to stick to meditations that allow you to focus your full attention on driving. If a meditation takes away your focus from the road it’s best to use it another time when you’re not in the car.
Benefits of meditating in the car
If you’re still considering if driving meditation is for you, then I’m happy to tell you there are a bunch of benefits to meditating while driving. If you’re nervous to give driving meditation a try here are a few of the benefits that mindful driving can bring:
1. Mindful driving is safer driving
With a heightened sense of awareness comes greater focus. The focus and presence that mindful meditation can bring will actually help you drive more safely. You will be less distracted and more aware of everything around you and the car. With less distractions and increased focus there is less of a chance you’ll get in an accident and you’ll see any trouble on the road before it becomes an issue.
2. You’ll notice things on your drive you never noticed before
Mindful driving can help you enjoy the ride more. As you drive with a greater focus and clarity you’ll be less in your head and more in the moment. As you tune into all the sights and sounds of your drive you might find yourself noticing cool things in the area you never noticed before. Maybe this is a new shop you never noticed, or a side road you find you want to explore later.
3. Cool down your road rage
If you’re prone to road rage meditating while driving can help you cool your nerves. Believe me I know how stressful driving can be. I particularly hate driving in traffic and busy cities, but being mindfully aware can help you keep your cool and keep your stress at bay.
Mindful practice can help you notice any anger or other strong emotions that are arising. Focusing on your breath and the simply observing your road rage is enough to calm it down.
Mindfulness meditation while driving is not only a completely safe activity, but it may actually be beneficial for your drive. From safer driving to calming your nerves, mindful driving has many benefits. So next time you find yourself on the road, give mindful meditation a try. You may find that it calms you down and keeps you focused on the road more than turning on a podcast would.