Keep Calm and Drive On
Posted on 7th February 2019 at 16:47
As therapists, we often talk with our clients about which emotional system is activated in us at any given time. Our focus often lies on the ‘Threat’ system.
I often think about my system and how it goes off in me on a regular basis when I’m driving.
My colleague once said to me ‘You know, you really need to do some mindfulness around your irritation when driving’ and it got me thinking.
I have been trying to work on it ever since and know that I will always have to work at it.
A funny thing happened the other day to illustrate to myself that I really ought to listen to the advice that I suggest to clients.
I have got into doing 10 minutes of meditation every day via the excellent Calm app. This has been an achievement in itself and sometimes, I must admit, I have to keep myself in check with this. You see, I got a bit hooked into ensuring that I kept my ‘streak’ going and didn’t interrupt it. The ‘streak’ is how many days you do your meditation in a row. I didn’t want to break it (What’s that all about? Another blog topic I think).
It was a Friday and I had finished late and was keen to get home and unwind. I knew that upon getting in, there wouldn’t be any chance for me to do 10 minutes practice so I thought ‘I know. I’ll do it in the slow moving traffic on the last bit of my drive home. What could possibly go wrong?’
The lovely voice of Tamara Levitt came on, instructing me to breathe in and out, noticing each part of the breath. All was going well, until at the supermarket traffic lights I flashed someone to come out in front of me.
They weren’t looking. ‘I’m on a yellow grid; get a move on will you?’ I thought. I flashed them again and I could see that they weren’t looking my way. ‘GET A BL****Y MOVE ON WILL YOU! PEOPLE ARE BEHIND ME! WHAT MUST THEY THINK?’ I was now shouting at the woman in the car, gesturing wildly with my hands. I flashed her a third, third time! She sees me, waves and pulled out slowly.
By then, I’ve lost it. I fume virtually all the way home lost in my irritation and anger. The meditation continued on and congratulated me for completing the exercise and informed me that I had achieved a ‘streak’ of 9 sessions in a row. I can laugh at the irony of this and thought about what it taught me.
Don’t try to squeeze something in just for the sake of keeping your running total.
Meditating in the car, in one of my most vulnerable areas for Threat to emerge, is not advisable.
Although I did notice that I let someone out this morning, they dithered and I smiled; so I think the meditation might be working but I shouldn’t try the 2 at once.
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