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We need to talk about driving

So it’s summer and while I’m encouraging you to get breezy and relax and get outside some more, I’m also about to get serious about something on here.

Last month I saw a horrible thing happen on the motorway. I’m not going to ruin your day by going into the details but it really got me thinking about the power we have in unexpected situations to take action. And particularly how we hone that power so we have more of it.

I started to realise that that commonly used phrase ‘just do the best you can’ that gets applied to all sorts of situations could actually do with a bit of pulling apart.

Are we truly able to say we’re ‘doing the best we can’ whenever we’re driving? Because it’s really important that we are.

Driving is the ultimate embodiment practice, if, and it’s a big IF we’re fully present in our body. Since learning Alexander Technique I’ve witnessed my own driving become a pleasurable rather than stressful experience. It’s now something I look forward to as it represents one of the only times where I’m not present to my phone and the beep beeps of messages and am fully awake to whatever is around me. My peripheral vision is working away, my feet are in sync with the actions of my hands and my whole body is alert but not tense, ready to take action with the power of my whole form should it be required.

Can you say this of yours?

If not my recent video is designed to help you start making some changes that should help. Take a watch.

How did I get here?

It’s through a form of restraint, calm, patience – recognising that the world on the road is bigger than me and that the best way to manage that is to manage myself at a deeper level. In the Alexander Technique, we teach this – it’s called inhibition. It’s one of the hardest, deepest and best things you can ever learn. How to get better results with less effort and more awareness. Whatever else is going on – child screaming, dog barking, a hail storm on the motorway.

I read a couple of years ago the phrase ‘micro sleep’ which means a short, involuntary episode of sleep which can last anything from a second to 10 or more. In the same article, it talked about driving and how when you get somewhere and you have this sense of not really remembering having got there you may well be micro-sleeping. This alarmed me which was a good thing and now I take note if I ever start to feel those very momentary nods. Realising that no amount of caffeine or energy drinks are actually going to fix the tiredness and actually it’s gonna make me and my driving jumpier, not less.

In some matters there’s no cheating.

If you’re too tired you’re going to be driving less well. End of. If you’re too tired the only thing you can do is take some time to rest. You’ll have to subtract some things in your life because if you work through the worst-case scenario this couldn’t be more important. Our decisions have to lead us to a simpler life if we’re to be able to rest more. Maybe you don’t need to go to the shops tonight, maybe you could just eat what’s at home. Maybe Friday nights are the night where you chill rather than head out, cos tbh the working week has you worn right out.

It has sadly become a trend to be so tired. But as Jiddu Krishnamurti says:

It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.

Jiddu Krishnamurti

In my family, we have experienced the horror that is losing someone in a road accident, and there was ambiguity and official proceedings about whether someone else on the road was responsible for it. There’s nothing good about being in either of those sets of shoes and I truly hope that you are never in them.

I don’t think a driving test at aged 17 and people carrying on driving into their 90’s without any checks is a particularly sensible approach to life on the road, so I encourage you to take some small actions and watch the video today to help make sure you’re working and improving on your own driving finesse. Seriously it’s one of those grown-up enjoyable things that you’ll be glad of 😉

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