That’s the number of times I’ve been pulled over since moving to the great state of Indiana. And the number of written warnings I’ve received. Not the sort of thing one likes to broadcast, but here I am writing about it on my public blog.
The first time I ran a stop sign on the way into my daughter’s school parking lot. Brain was shut off partially because I had been following directions of crossing guards at the previous two intersections– who often waved me through stop signs… and… I guess, because I was focusing on safely parking and getting my daughter in the school building without hitting others cars or children (it was the second week of school, I believe.) I’ve never run that stop sign again. Nor will I.
The second time I was driving 35 mph in a 20 mph school zone, minutes after dropping my daughter off at school. I was on autopilot and didn’t realize I was still in the school zone when I let my speed climb to the normal cruising speed for the street. I was grateful for just a warning. And I am SUPER careful in school zones now.
And tonight, I was driving without my lights on. How on earth was I doing this? Well, end of a long day at the end of a long week and I drove from a meeting at a parishioner’s house to the church to accompany my colleague on a venture to pick up her phone. Turned off the car. Turned off the lights. Got out of the car and she told me to head home because a custodian was still there and she felt safe handling it on her own. Got back in the car. Turned it on. And clearly didn’t turn the lights back on. And minutes later lights were flashing behind me. And I hadn’t the foggiest idea why. A very nice cop figured my car must be new (it really is still pretty new to us… and I’ve driven it at night very little!) and wrote up a warning. I’m guessing I won’t do that again.
In all three of these incidents my brain was either shut off or wandering… well… actually wandering. I can get so lost in my head that my attention to the physical world around me fades away. I honestly think this is at the root of all three incidents. (And perhaps a bit of bad luck, too… the number of people I’ve witnessed making the same mistakes– the first two anyhow– and NOT getting pulled over is staggering.) This is part of why a regular yoga practice is important for me. I need to do things that get me out of my head and into my body. A lot of times my mind is whirring even during yoga. But sometimes, I focus only my breath and the present moment. And usually I leave yoga more aware of my body.
These warnings are disciplining my driving tendencies, but they also invite me to cultivate greater attention to the present moment. What are some practices that help you with this?