Drifting off

Doing anything new always requires more attention than something we are familiar with. Once an activity has become routine it is so easy to slip into auto-pilot. Once the auto-pilot is on we can indulge in the endless chatter with which we fill so many of our waking hours. The constant churning of regrets about the past and worries about the future.

Driving is for many of us the most common example of this. That moment when you suddenly realise that you can't remember any of the past ten minutes of motorway driving no matter how busy the traffic. But this is why my current truck driving adventures are so interesting. I have to be completely on the ball all of the time. Nothing is happening on auto-pilot yet. I have to keep my wits about me all of the time.

If I make a mistake my brain wants to go over and over it. What I got wrong, what I should have done, what could have been worse. 0ff I go spinning stories about something that didn't happen rather than keeping my mind and attention on what is happening now. But we live like this all the time. We miss our lives because instead of being here now we drift off into analysing what happened a week ago or terrifying ourselves about what might or might not happen next month.

Observing ourselves doing this is what meditation is all about – increasing our ability to realise that we have drifted off and away from the present moment. Catching myself doing this is going to be critical to my ability to safely negotiate my truck and its cargo through busy traffic. I seem to be reasonably good at doing this. Little did I think that practicing meditation all these years would benefit me in such an unexpected way!

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