The Driving Dead

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I have a visceral reaction to rush-hour traffic–it is abhorrent. But, I live in metro-Atlanta, it’s unavoidable. It’s also a great opportunity to test my spiritual practices It’s my own laboratory: I listen to “edutaining” audiobooks, I try to remain present, I avoid judging other drivers, I resist the phone.

The Yoga Sutras suggest five behaviors for a spiritual seeker to cultivate; one of these attitudes is mindfulness (smriti).  Which is simply, paying attention to whatever you are paying attention to.  It is also seeing that the path is every step you take; not compartmentalizing spiritual life and secular life.  I am learning a great deal about myself while I am behind the wheel.

Recently, while wrestling with the traffic juggernaut, one of my greatest teachers abruptly tested me.  She wanted me to see if I was grounded in my practices. During a particularly frenetic moment, my five-year-old daughter, Clementine, exclaimed from her booster seat, “I don’t want you to die and leave me alone!”

This was seemingly out of nowhere; yet, in a previous post, I noted our home is in a state of transition. So, the outburst wasn’t entirely unwarranted.

My mind was in a whirl; how do I explain impermanence to a child while, paradoxically, trying not to kill us on the road?

The answer was simple, my practices had prepared me, I surrendered.  Yoga practices make you flexible–not as a contortionist.  Sadhana is a process of systematically reducing reducing attachments, such as expectations, and attaining a state of pure spontaneity.

So, without being too kerflummoxed, I was in a new role–Teacher Mom.  Off went the radio, deep breathing resumed, and a truly beautiful moment ensued. I told Clementine that everything she can see is a cosmic ocean.  I explained we are all waves in the ocean.  A wave rises and falls; but, is never removed from the ocean.  In the same manner, we have not and cannot ever be apart.  She continued to be emotional; but, she found comfort in knowing she and I are One.

I offered a prayer of gratitude for my car temple.  What a sublime moment of intimacy in the sea of automotive chaos.  Every moment is Divine.

 

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