I’m embarrassed to say that I had to attend a vehicle speed awareness course last week.
I’d been caught going just a couple of miles over the limit and I consider myself a safe driver so, if I’m honest, it’s been a date in the diary I’d been dreading. My assumption was that it would be a dry course full of facts and figures designed to educate and frighten us into driving more slowly. To my relief it was actually a fascinating exploration of why we speed with practical tips that reflect much of what we talk about in Zen Pilates to bring about mindfulness and calm.
Why we speed in our cars boiled down to 3 things:
1. We rush. Most of us are operating day to day in a mental rush, a hurry that translates into physical speed when we get in the car. We might be late or we might simply want to gain a few seconds advantage on the day.
2. We’re distracted. Whilst driving a lethal machine few of us are focussed on what’s going on around us, in the present moment, but rather where we’re going or where we’ve just been.
3. We’re frazzled. We’re functioning frazzled – our overloaded, overhyper minds come with us into the car equating to choices and behaviour during our journeys that at times come from irritable, anger or frustration leading to bad decisions.
At worst when we drive in this mode we’re impolite, rude or worst case downright dangerous. I had to admit that on reflection I have been recently, at times, sat in the impolite and impatient space.
We were given a really practical tip to help us become calmer, more in control, mindful and slower in our approach to driving. We were told to create a safety bubble. We were shown the many benefits that creating and maintaining a physical space between our vehicle and the vehicle in front can have on accidents, or potential accidents. By opening up space for ourselves and each other we will save lives. They weren’t just talking about physically – physically putting a greater distance between you and the vehicle in front is an important part of it – 1metre for every mile per hour of your speed is a good barometer or use the ‘only a fool breaks the 2 second rule’, but there are mental benefits too:
1. It makes you mindful – monitoring and keeping that physical gap keeps you in the moment.
2. It gives you space to think – to respond not just react. If someone encroaches on your bubble there’s space for you to ease away safely and take an alternative cause of action rather than having to just react and be rushed into poor decisions.
3. It’s infectious – when one person slows down there’s a ripple effect.
The class kept making me think about my Zen Pilates classes. In these sessions we use movement, breathing and mindfulness techniques to help counter all of the above. Most of us are living our lives rushed, distracted and frazzled. In general life, unlike driving, we don’t receive fines for putting our mental well-being at risk. Yet when we’re feeling overwhelmed, rushed, encroached upon, in reaction rather than considered response mode – we’re making poor decisions and increasing our chances of a calamity.
So my outtake from the course was to reclaim your safety bubble not just when driving but in life. Recognise when you’re operating rushed, distracted and frazzled and increase your safety bubble. You can do this by:
• Taking a break – physically and mentally put some distance between yourself from your surroundings and the problems you’re facing. Go for a walk or sit quietly for a moment and just breathe deeply. You’ll reset your mind and gain some perspective.
• Take the emotion out of the situation and just observe the facts. Breathe deeply and ask yourself what would you advise a friend to do?
• Use a moment of mindfulness and visualise yourself surrounded by a safety bubble. Start with 3 deep breaths, take a body scan and imagine being surrounded and floating in the centre of a bubble of positivity. Imagine that bubble to be impenetrable – only positive, relaxed, vibes can enter the bubble, negativity can’t penetrate the walls. Float with your breath enveloped in a bubble of calm. A few minutes of this mindful exercise will pull you out of fight and flight mode and reset your system into the parasympathetic system of rest and digest.
Christmas is a wonderful time of year but also one that can bring increased distraction and pressure. So this Christmas don’t be afraid to pump the breaks, slow things down, stay in the moment and if you need to deploy your safety bubble – you know what to do.
#safetybubble #slowdown #presentmoment #mindfulness #mindfulnesstips #breathe #cultivatecalm #pumpthebreaks #zenpilates