Consciousness techniques on long drives

This post is about consciousness techniques I found valuable for use when doing long drives alone.

There were two types that I found quite helpful. I learned of their basics in books in the general field of holistics. Unfortunately I have lost track of the books and authors from whom I learned these techniques in the 1980's.

One is very simple and I practiced exactly same as the author described: count breaths, starting with number one and going only up to number ten, then restarting at number one again. Continue this sequence indefinitely while doing the drive until next breaktime; resume when back on the road again. Counting breaths: 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10-1-2-3-4-5.... I found that indeed it helped keep me alert yet more at ease, the miles passing easier. And on rare occasions when I discovered that I was counting beyond ten "... 12-13-14..." it was an alert signal that I had been a bit inattentive, and thus getting me to pay more attention.

A more complex yet equally more effective technique which helped keep me alert yet more at ease during very long drives is one that I adapted from one I had read about, and I called my variation of it the "PJO" or the "Peace - Joy - Order" process, perhaps same name as original source, although the way I did it was unique, I think. It too involves a process that is synchronous with the breath. Re-describing it now, the process consists of noticing three different kinds of things while driving along the highway, noticing them in sequence, over and over again. The first one is done while mentally saying the name "peace" to oneself with the breath: notice some muscle in the body that is more tense than necessary for the driving task ongoing, and relax it just a little bit. Then while saying the word "joy" to oneself, notice something out there among what is seen that has some quality of beauty or prettiness to it, anything. Then on the next breath do the third process to the mentally expressed word "order," that of seeking something out there that has a quality of order to it at that instant; just identify whatever it is, noticing it. Then on the next breath, start the process over again, breath by breath, step by step, peace - joy - order - peace - joy.... Example is "peace" breath, notice and relax a tenseness in small of back; ""joy" breath, appreciate the colorfullness of taillights in the dusk; "order" breath, notice the repetitive sequence of telephone poles and their parallel wires alongside the highway. Then do the three again, with some new overstressed muscle found, etc. After hours of doing this process, I was quite relaxed and keenly aware of all involved with the driving, even more so than during the usual form of "pay continuous careful attention" driving that involves maintenance of a high level of stress throughout the drive. I only did this process during the long interstate drives, not the intense driving along high speed city freeways such as in Los Angeles, which involves a lot of shifting of vision from front to sides to rear view involving head motion, other vehicles close and fast and not always exactly predictable. But on the long otherwise tedious drives, the peace-joy-order breathing process worked great.

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