From honking cars to congested lanes at rush hour, we drivers know that getting around in Singapore can be stressful. And who among us has not felt that spark of irritation when a car cuts in without signalling first or when a traffic light turns amber before we get close enough to beat the red light?
With many Singaporeans spending up to nine hours a week behind the wheel, that is a lot of time to spend tearing out our hair. Here’s an idea! Practise mindfulness during your daily drives to change your mindset and go on your own personal journey to inner peace.
Contrary to popular belief that you can only be mindful if you’re flexible enough to twist your legs into the lotus position, mindfulness can actually be practised anytime and anywhere. Defined as an awareness that arises from paying purposeful attention in the present moment without judgement, mindfulness is something that comes from within yourself. And if your environment (like rude drivers) tests your sense of Zen, we challenge you to use this opportunity to unlearn aggressive driving habits that could be affecting your equanimity.
As mindfulness teacher Dawn Sim sees it, “Driving is the perfect opportunity for practising mindfulness. Responsible drivers know that driving on the road requires attention and focus, so what better time is there to pay attention, on purpose, than the present moment?”
With innovations like the BMW Caring Car feature that lets you adjust cabin lighting, in-vehicle climate and audio settings in order to create a feel-good atmosphere in the car, consider your first step in creating a “peace pod” in your car. To help you enjoy even more moments of serenity, Dawn, who is also the founder of The Open Centre which runs programmes on mindfulness and resilience, shares five mindful practices that you can easily do while on the road.
1. Settle into your seat when you step into your car
After you start your engine, take your eyes off the clock for a few moments to check that your mirrors are in place and buckle up. While you’re at it, enjoy the sensation of settling comfortably into your plush leather seat. Dawn suggests making this an intentional routine each time you get into your car. This will give you the opportunity to enjoy a breather (while performing a safety check), especially since most of us spend our time rushing about. She says: “Don’t worry, you will get through your day. You can afford to spend 60 seconds just to slow down and be present.”
2. Let go of tension
When the car is in motion, notice your own attitude and body language. Do you automatically switch into a “competitive” mode because you are in a hurry, and is that causing tension as you floor the accelerator? When that happens, consciously let your pace slacken a little, and ask yourself if you really do need to reach the office five minutes quicker. Now is the time to hit the button on that massage seat function in your BMW! Available in the BMW X7 and select BMW 7 Series models, this function mildly massages your back to ease away tensions while driving.
3. Be patient on the road
While driving, you can “practise” patience by consciously choosing to be a gracious driver. “For example, make a practice of noticing cars trying to enter your lane, and adjust your speed so that you can let them in if it’s safe to do so,” Dawn suggests.
After all, your BMW has features like Lane Changing Warning that monitors your blind spots to ensure safety when you are merging lanes, making it so much easier for you to drive with ease. So, go ahead and be that kind driver who makes the road a more enjoyable place for everyone else.
4. Practise breathing every time you stop
When you get to a stop light or have to make any other necessary stops, seize this chance to take your mindfulness practice to the next level. “I like to direct my attention to noticing signs of stress in the body, such as hands gripping the steering wheel tightly, tense shoulders or a clenched jaw. With every exhale, I allow my body to relax more,” says Dawn. “Since the car is stopped, it is also safer to let your awareness be more fully connected with your breathing.” Just like that, your drive will become so much more pleasant.
5. Set an intention before leaving your car
Squeezing your car into a tight parking lot can be stressful for some but worry not! BMW’s Parking Assistant, which has features like a surround view system, a reversing assistant and automatic parking functions can make the parking experience super effortless. Once that’s done, savour the sense of accomplishment at arriving at your destination in a calm state of mind. Now, don’t forget to carry this Zen mood with you through your day too. How?
“Set the intention to bring the focus (and patience) you have cultivated during the drive to the rest of the day,” says Dawn. “It’s that simple.”