Driving with Presence

For most of my driving life I have not been driving with presence. I have found that I do not enjoy driving at all, yet when I was behind the wheel of a car for the first time I found it fun. When I was first learning to drive, I remember being totally in the moment, present with my driving and aware of everything that was going on around me. My focus was always with what I was doing and there was a simplicity and a humbling joy of feeling the gentle movements of driving the car.

I remember that when I first started driving I never had any need to seek a ‘thrill’ while driving. I never needed (or wanted) to drive excessively fast or in an unsafe way (the standard speed limit of 50km/h was fast enough for me, let alone driving at 100 or 110km/h!).

Yet, over time, I have found that my driving has changed and I have not felt quite the same joy – and that my driving ethic had changed from when I first started to drive. I have been pondering what is behind this feeling and I realised:

  • I am often not present with myself when I drive. I am usually thinking about the time or about what I need to do when I get there, but very rarely am I in the moment thinking about what I am doing. Sometimes I have been so distracted or checked out that when I arrive to my destination I hardly recall turning on the car, much less braking, accelerating and all the other things we do when we drive. At these times I would feel like a driving zombie!
  • When I am not present when driving, it is actually very dangerous; not just for me but for other drivers as well. I have found that when driving over the many bumps and abrasions in the road, I often never even notice them until I actually feel myself driving over them! I then feel a pulse of anxiousness through my body as I feel that I was not prepared for driving over bumps. At times, I have found my driving seemingly very reckless with no real care for myself or my car at all!
  • When I drive, it is seems easy at times to go over 100km/h without noticing. Have I detached so much from myself that now I am unaware of how fast I am driving? I have found that when I am needing to get somewhere, I have a feeling of enjoyment from being reckless and driving for the ‘thrill’ of going fast. Why do I now need this thrill when I didn’t before?
  • I often reach for the stereo and listen to something. This was typically music but it could have been the radio, too. I can feel when I do this sometimes I am so away from the moment that the radio or music is just another way to escape when I am feeling stress or anxiety.

What if I could drive differently and be more present as I drive, and therefore actually enjoy being with myself while I am driving?

I have found that driving with presence is actually extremely fun and very nourishing for me and my body. By being with me in the moment (as I did when I was 15 and learning to drive), I have found that:

  • Time and space seem to expand. There is a humble feeling of not needing to get anywhere. I am learning that if I do need to get somewhere on time, I need to make time, as a support for myself and my driving.
  • I am no longer a zombie on the road but instead a lovely man who is totally enjoying the ride. It is surprising how much fun it can be to be with my body as I did when I was 15 and learning to drive. Now I want to be present in all of my driving so I am completely aware and remember all of the journey. I am going to drive me there and not the zombie! There is also no feeling of anxiety for driving too fast or driving over bumps, but instead one of joy as I am with my body and my car when I approach a bump… I am ready for it.
  • The space and connection with myself I am creating as I drive is one that totally supports me for my day and what is ahead. There is no need to escape any more, for what could prepare me more for my day than being in my joy when I arrive?
  • The space in the car is so still when I drive with conscious presence that I can feel the gentleness of my breath throughout my body. It becomes an amazing time to remind me of the gentle tender man I am and that the support and joy I need is found in that space.

The seemingly simple power of being in the moment and driving with presence for me is one of the best tools to enjoy life again. I have been inspired to live this connection again by the students of Universal Medicine and the forever inspiring work of Serge Benhayon, who have highlighted to me from their lives what simple joy can come from just being.

By Joshua Campbell (21), Living in Christchurch, NZ

165 thoughts on “Driving with Presence

  1. I have to drive quite a bit for work and have slipped into an old pattern of listening to Radio 4 (a talking channel in the UK) the whole time. I have created my own little bubble and to be honest, it feel pretty awful to drive in this way. Thank you for the reflection Joshua. I needed a responsibility check.

  2. I can so relate to this Joshua thank you, I have picked up all sorts of ‘driving patterns’ that became auto-pilot over the years. Conscious presence is something I find quite tricky while driving, especially long distances, and is still a work in progress…

  3. So much of what you have identified here Joshua I can relate to. Thank you for the gentle reminder to, at all times, drive with presence.

  4. Driving with such connection and presence that you create a space where you can feel the gentleness of your breath throughout your body is just stunning and a deeply inspirational way to drive. This is a way of being we could all learn and grow from whether in a car or not.

  5. Thank you Joshua, this blog is just what I needed to read as I got booked for speeding on my way to work a couple of days ago. I surprised myself at the level of honesty I was capable of with myself and consequently I did not go into the old pattern of getting annoyed and feeling like a victim of bad luck. Consequently, I was very warm and friendly to the officer and he was super lovely in return and commented how this was the most awesome experience he had ever had whilst issuing someone with a ticket. Instead of this experience ‘wrecking’ my day as it would have in the past I was filled with appreciation and joy as I clocked just how much I have changed.

  6. So greatly shared Joshua.There is so much more of ourselves to enjoy when we bring our presence to all that we do, be it driving or life in general. I agree, it is a simple yet powerful way to be, knowing that we are being our true selves through our living day and as such bringing Soulfullness to all that we do.

  7. I like the simplicity that Joshua is offering here. The space to simply be where we are as we drive (or doing anything in life) is so very freeing. I can remember driving with this constant tension of being worried I would be late. When I did this there was no joy in my drive. Yet making changes similar to what is shared above opens the space to again breath and enjoy the process of life.

  8. I wonder if the key is in your first sentence – that you didn’t enjoy driving and you were never present – could there be a link between truly enjoying life and being present in our moment to moment activities? It makes sense, because how could we enjoy something that we are not fully aware is happening?

  9. I really enjoy driving and can palpably feel the difference between driving being with myself and driving being distracted. In truth driving in presence is expanding; as you have so beautifully described; whilst driving when distracted is dangerous to all. Thank you Joshua for the gentle reminder to always connect to oneself whilst driving.

  10. I love driving, always have and I link it to the freedom it gave and gives me. You actually say a lot about yourself with the way you drive, how fast you go, how you interact with other road users, your attitudes, , how you accelerate, how you park and the list goes on. Each one of these can be read to reflect something to you have not just your driver but how you are in life, even down to what you carry in the boot. It may sound to much but I’m not telling you you have to do it but saying it’s there if you want to have some fun and learn more about yourself. Driving isn’t just a tool to get from point A to point B, there is a science to it, a flow, that when you are in all the traffic light are green and when you’re not there’s another 10 sets of red traffic lights that you never knew existed.

  11. Joshua what you present here around driving with connection and presence is very inspiring and a great reminder for us all. It is so obvious to me when I drive in ‘auto-pilot’ when I arrive at my destination I can feel totally different than if I choose to drive with presence the quality of my driving and the quality of my day flows with a simplicity and grace to it.

  12. I love the way you highlight things with no holding back on the honesty and impact of the way we choose in life, Joshua.
    When I was first introduced to the teachings on conscious presence by Serge Benhayon, I decided to bring a particular focus to the way I drive. This proved quite revelatory – as to the habitual patterns of nervous energy, rushing, distracting, etc, that I had become very accustomed to… very similar to what you’ve shared here. And so I made a commitment to myself to always begin a drive anywhere with the simplicity of being truly present (to the best of my ability) with my body – my hands on the wheel/controls, the way I use the accelerator in particular (what an indicator if one is in a state of nervous drive, however subtle or strong!), feeling my body in the driver’s seat and the way I bring attention to all that is around me on the road, the sound of the engine, and so on… I would intend to hold this focus for at least the first 7 minutes or so (if heading north for me, this would be 2 villages up the road) before listening perhaps to a recording or some music I felt to spend time with on my drive.
    Boy was this revealing – as to how used to NOT being truly present with myself I was, and yet with time, things have quite remarkably changed. No perfection whatsoever, but the level of being present with myself is something that is deeply worth it – sitting in the car alone such a great point from which to really attune where one is truly ‘at’ and what pressures/expectations/nervous energy may have crept into the day…

  13. Firstly, WOW, your 21 when you wrote this and you have enough wisdom to know that above all else, you are a gentle man worth taking car of! Blown.away.
    Secondly, what a timely reminder for me, as lately I’ve been catching myself driving somewhat recklessly (and by that, I don’t mean doing 150 in a 50 zone) and lacking real presence. I recently bought a new car and for the first time ever I’ve got cruise control. This has actually made a huge difference to how I drive, because setting and forgetting the speed means I’m forced to sit back and pay attention to the road without the urge to want to beat the traffic or go faster. I still have the urge to go faster, but the cruise control reminds me, that I don’t need to and that all I have to do is stay with myself and the car.

  14. The way in which we drive is a wonderful reflection to how we are living eg, if I am living in anxiousness and nervous energy then my driving is going to be in anxiousness and nervous energy. Driving with connection to myself and going at a pace that supports me is so worth while. I may not get to the final destination in the fastest time although I have found that when my journey is easy and flowing I arrive well in advance and the joy with which I feel in my body is because I have chosen to allow plenty of time and not rush or be apprehensive about how the journey will go.

  15. I remember being focused when I first learnt to drive, there was so much to remember I didn’t dare not stay focused, and as the years have gone past, I have become confident and comfortable and that often leads to making mistakes, and that is when it gets really dangerous and accidents happen, staying focused is really part of our responsibility to ourselves and everyone else.

  16. “What simple joy can come from just being” – so true, and how ironic it is that we often think we have to pack our lives with activities and actions, to feel the thrill, the excitement, the stimulation etc. to feel that our life is full, that we are full. We are enough already, and there’s no need to do, but just be for us to connect with that fullness.

  17. Given the number of accidents on the roads, your lesson of presence when driving is clearly something all of us who drive need.

  18. I like the description of you no longer being a zombie on the road. We certainly need more people who are present and responsible when they are driving. A friend of mine told me she overtook a driver on the motorway recently because his car was moving erratically. As she passed him she glanced into the car noticed he was eating his breakfast cereal, bowl in one hand, spoon in the other whilst trying to hold the steering wheel. Crazy.

  19. I can feel the simple joy of just being in how you write Joshua, and it feels gorgeous. And I love the practical details you bring in, if we want to be on time we have to give ourselves time and not try and squash and compress ourselves now this is something for me to explore, thank you.

  20. Driving definitely sets a firm pattern of how we are with the rest of our life. What happens when we are in rage, angry, late and or checked out they all set us up for the rest of the day if we drive to work lets say.
    Would the Joy and focus we walk to the car in possibly set us on a different path in the way we drive? So I concur Joshua, ‘The seemingly simple power of being in the moment and driving with presence for me is one of the best tools to enjoy life again.’ And it can all start before we start the car in our movements before we open the door.

  21. Driving is a time when it can be easy to go into auto-pilot, thanks you for reminding us of the importance of conscious presence at all times whilst driving.

  22. Anything we do being fully consciously present makes anything we do fully enjoyable. Tasks like ‘work’ becomes fun. Many people complain about the simple things or do not appreciate them. I have found in these situations like food shopping I absolutely adore and appreciate what I am bringing and feeling while I shop. It’s like your own flavour and dimension of your unique expression in whatever and that which you do. Everything becomes a Joy and expansion while your doing something – it’s not mundane but more like a celebration of how it is that you are moving and expressing while doing it .. ..

  23. What I have also found being consciously present in your body – a quality is claimed i.e. things complete for the next to be there and there is a simple flow. For eg. rushing driving does not ever get you there quicker because the natural flow and order is not there with you and around you. You get all those lights and you are not with yourself when you arrive. When a projected outcome is placed on the flow it is a force you are now dealing with and not the opportunity of the next that is offered in rhythm of you and what is needed around you – the beauty offered by you and for you.

  24. I do agree with you Joshua, it is so much more fun to drive in presence instead of way in my mind. The movement and speed of the car is actually a joy to feel as are the interactions with the other drivers on the road and not to see them as annoying people that stop me in my speeding or coming somewhere fast.

  25. I love (and it makes sense) that you find driving with presence fun and nourishing for you and your body. ‘The space in the car is so still when I drive with conscious presence that I can feel the gentleness of my breath throughout my body.’

  26. Perfect blog for me to read this morning as a little reminder to not check out while driving and I love how you describe that driving with presence is fun and very nourishing for your body, yes of course it is and so when we arrive at our destination, we are totally with ourselves prepared and ready for the meeting or the visit, whatever the occasion is.

  27. Our lives become greatly enriched when we bring our awareness to and appreciate how each moment offers us the opportunity to deepen our connection to who we are in essence and bring this quality of presence to life. It is enriching in the sense that every moment holds equal value to the next, regardless of whatever we are doing, as such there are many great moments for us to bring our light to, beginning with this one now.

  28. Many people are guilty of not driving with the understanding that every move affects all others on the roads, as in we are one giant connection. An accident on a major road affects potentially thousands of people and changes the day for everyone (or perhaps even longer). Awareness that using the road system to drive means we are accepting responsibility for all around us is imperative.

  29. It is great to drive a car being in full conscious presence what I am doing, and NOT going into thoughts. The car also feels like an extension of my body which is a pretty cool thing to experience.

  30. To my experience many drivers on the road nowadays are not really present and maybe use the car as a means to check out from the reality of life which to me is clearly demonstrated by the the general notion that accidents which are happening on the roads are a insuperable and in that accept an abuse that does not belong to us. So too we allow our roads to fill themselves each day with traffic jams which not only are very costly for our economy but where we tend to check out from life even more.

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