The Not-So-Open Road: Learning to Be with our Busy Minds
Au Co, or really any busy road in Hanoi, is like the mind. The mess of vehicles contending for time and space: these are our thoughts.
Cut off by a damning self-critical thought, the steaming truck coming in sharp from the left, we might feel frustration, irritation. Our repetitive, anxious thoughts of the future, the oncoming wave of anh ois driving upstream, against traffic, cause tension and worry. Our ruminations of the past drudge by, almost knocking us off our bike, as the two tons of cargo the Honda Wave carries. The “should’ve, would’ve, could’ves”. The chi oi carrying a traveling garden of sunflowers and the beautiful red sunset over the horizon are our daydreams, pleasant distractions from our present responsibility to keep our eyes on the road.
And in its busiest moments, as all these thoughts vie for territory, the sea of incessant honking, heat, and mugginess can feel exhausting. Overwhelming. To cope, we might just want to tune out. Plug in our headphones, distract ourselves from the madness. But this numbing also detracts from our awareness. We put ourselves at risk of crashing.
And so one may hope that they could clear the road completely. How nice would it be to always be alone on the open road? To have an perfectly clear mind. But this isn’t realistic. The road is meant to be shared. We cannot push out our thoughts. They are here to stay.
What we can do, though, is change the way we relate to them. Within the pandemonium, there is a flow. Like the many run-ins with other vehicles we encounter on our daily commutes, thoughts also come and go, if we let them. It’s only the way that we hold onto them that causes us misery. Its not that you were cut off, it’s that you can’t stop ruminating about being cut off minutes, hours beyond that experience. If you can let the truck flow away, as it truly does, the frustration eventually follows suit and dissipates. The hysteria of traffic doesn’t have to feel so hysterical, if we can learn to see it with the lense of that flow.
The more we can start to experience the passing of thought and return to that understanding when we lose sight of it, the less exhausted we are by the busyness of the mind. To start changing our relationship with our thoughts, we can meditate.
So, I want to bust a common myth here about meditation that many people believe. Just because you have a busy mind, does not mean you cannot meditate, or that it couldn’t be useful to you. Just because you have to commute during rush hour does not mean it couldn’t be a more peaceful, enjoyable experience if you wanted it to be.
In fact, those of us with the busiest of minds might just notice the most significant differences and greatest benefits from practicing meditation. I can speak to that from personal experience. My mind is still a busy one, certainly more clear than when I started, but I’ve found more stable peace in the way that I relate to it with meditation practice. More on the benefits later…
So don’t let a busy mind deter you, because, the truth is, we all have busy minds. If you notice yours to be, know that you are not alone! The roads can be hectic for us all. Accepting that our minds can be as hot, noisy and crowded as Au Co at rush hour is one of the big steps we can take to access more peace in daily life. And with that, I believe a little meditation practice in each of our lives would allow us to live, and drive, with a greater sense of contentment.
If you are curious to learn, try downloading one of the many wonderful meditation apps out there. Headspace, Calm, and 10% Happier are some of the most popular. You can also check out different local meditation events, dive head first into a meditation retreat, or reach out for personal instruction. Be safe out there on the roads! And, be well.
Quiggy fights crime during the day as The Content Mentor, offering mindset & skills-based coaching, to kids and adults, in weight loss, healthy lifestyle change and mindfulness meditation. He’d be happy to hear from you and/or help you become your own content mentor at [email protected]