In the last few weeks I have started doing some meditation. Just spending time intentionally being present. Being still, body and mind. It’s actually hard work. My mind is so busy and thoughts intrude. But each time they do I acknowledge them and let them go.
As I was driving on the weekend I tried to transfer this practice of intentional presence to my driving. No, I didn’t close my eyes as I usually do when I’m meditating. But I did try to stay totally present with the drive, endeavouring to enjoy every moment of the time I spent in the car. Again, it was easy to let the mind wander, particularly forward to what I would do when I arrived home. But each time I just let the thought go and reminded myself to stay here.
By doing this, as when I meditate, I became much more aware of what was going on around me. I noticed the light, that yellowing light of winter and the shadows that stretched and elongated across the road. I noticed the clouds, their shape and often intense whiteness. I deliberately listened to the cars that came past me on the road, the hum and roar of the engines and tyres. Then there were the random things, like the signpost with the paint weathering on it, the brown letterbox for a property, the sheep yellow-white in the paddock, the fallen timber under the gums.
The interesting thing was that I enjoyed this drive so much. This was a road I travelled so often, I was very familiar with it and the temptation to drive by “remote control” was strong. But this time because I was intentional about being present for the drive I just loved it, I saw things I often missed and I arrived rested and content.
Contentment. That was an unexpected benefit of this mindfulness, this intentional presence. The intensity of the contentment was amazing and not something I had experienced before. There was a sense in which the intensity of presence overwhelmed me, filling me completely up. And all whilst driving!
I know that one of the benefits of meditation is the ability to be more focused and present in all situations. I was glad to discover that the same sense of focus and mindfulness could be experienced whilst doing a task. It didn’t need to be confined to being still and silent.
I will practice this intentional presence more often, in different places and settings. It will be interesting to see what difference it makes to my day.