The Library

Motoring Yoga

                                                MOTORING YOGA


It is more than likely that we spend more time in our cars, than in our churches, temples or meditation rooms.  So perhaps it is time to think how we might use the `car experience` yogically.  There are many similarities between our cars and ourselves.  It is not unusual to say that the human body is simply a very effective machine; all the bits working together for maximum efficiency.  But is it?  Sometimes a car may be working to better effect than we are. 


What make and model is your car, and you?  Is it an open top sports car, showy, aerobic, fast and hectic?  Is it a dignified status symbol, rather pompous, heavy and sedate, occupying the road in a way that demands recognition and deference?  Can you identify with a family saloon, steady and reliable, driven by the book, all the windows firmly closed, or an abused workhorse, ill fed and unserviced, heading for an early trip to the breakers yard?  Or do you see your car as a well kept tool, to enable your life to run more easily?


Registration numbers can be more than just luck or coincidence.  Most new car buyers are given a choice.  What is the hidden code in your number, helping you to remember the letters and digits?  Personalised number plates tell us even more about the driver.  I am longing for the day when I see AUM 1, but suspect I am more likely to see EGO 1.


Of course we take care to service and clean our car, and to use the correct grade of fuel to keep the engine running smoothly.  What happens if we neglect our car, is a pointer to what we see happening in those who don`t look after themselves. 


Learner drivers cannot take to the road alone, or carry passengers, without their guru, the driving instructor.  But we all know that the really important part of learning to drive, begins when you have passed your test, and are alone to make your own decisions.  With confidence you feel happy to invite passengers to share your journey.  Backseat drivers may be a distraction, but at times it is useful to have a map reading friend at your side, when you begin to feel lost.


Is your car a repository of your life?  Old maps, faded membership badges, sweet wrappers, tapes, the odd empty carrier bag, library books, something you have meant to return to a friend, are examples of the sort of thing we leave in our cars, like the unfinished projects, discarded relationships and beliefs we carry within ourselves. 


Trying to drive with iced, dirty or greasy windows can be fatal.  Engineers provide us with heated rear windows and mirrors to see behind us, and into the past.  There is a danger of becoming so preoccupied with what is coming up behind us, or where we have been, that we might neglect to look forwards.  Isn`t this so often the case with people, who find comfort in nostalgia, but at the same time fear what is threatening to overtake them.  To prevent that we might drive faster and faster, and miss the turning we need..


Often the side windows remain clear, but through those we don`t see into the future.  As we gaze out at the passing scene, the present, there is a danger that we forget to focus on where we are trying to go.  At best, seeing life through a window, can only be a second hand experience.  Let us envy those we see walking at life`s natural pace.


A dirty windscreen is a real hazard.  In winter many drivers will scrape a tiny patch of ice or snow to peer through, almost creating tunnel vision.  Static dust builds up on the inside, blurring vision as we drive into the sun.  Of course as good drivers, we wipe the windscreen before each journey.  We can look forward, into our journey, with clarity.  We can read the signs, see the dangers and react accordingly.  As the road stretches away into the distance, and the future, we can travel with a sense of purpose and direction.


You may be an, `all brakes and accelerator` driver, stamping your foot down on the pedal to get in front of anything else on the road , screeching to a halt at the last minute with no road space to spare.  Or maybe you cruise along slowly, holding the middle lane and denouncing cars that come speeding past.  Yoga should teach us how to pace ourselves in life, but it should also teach us how to flow with the stream.  Ultimately you choose whether you stay in the slow lane, middle or fast.  Each needs its own driving skills using smooth operations for minimum fuel consumption and driving comfort.


In an automatic car, gear changing becomes one problem less to worry about.  But sometimes problems can teach us valuable lessons.  Are you a late gear changer,  hoping you can make it round the corner in top gear. ?  Do you skip gears, crash through your gears, keep the engine screaming in low gear, or try to pull away in second or third?  Think how you react when those same conditions are imposed on you in life.


We can even see lessons in the five wheels of our car. 


Your car may be front, or rear wheel drive? Is it being pushed, or pulled, by the machinations of the engine hidden under the bonnet?   Engineers tell us that rear wheel drive is more effective, especially going up steep hills when the going is slippery.  In the same way, are you pushed or pulled?  You may be the person who relies on being dragged by a helping hand, still screaming resistance, along life`s way.  Or maybe you find life has a habit of pushing you into situations, really landing you in it, and letting you find your own way forward. 


Tyres keep the car on the road.  Physically we have our feet to do that on the earth, but we also need the tread and inflation of our minds, the knowledge and inner stability which we develop, to handle everything that life sends along.  When you lose your grip, do you find yourself skidding, swinging from side to side, desparately searching for a guiding rut to hold onto and guide your direction?  Learn to use your inner power, to give yourself the confidence and stability to keep going in your chosen direction.  Steer into the problem, and you will discover that you can handle it.  Try to avoid a problem by steering in the other direction, and you lose control


We speak of the nearside and offside wheels, left and right.  As humans we have the left and right sides of the brain.  We are told that the left side handles the linear, rational decisions we make, and the right side of the body.  The right side of the brain handles our intuitive, creative aspects of the mind and the left side of the body.  In our modern society we tend to focus increasingly on the rational; that which can be consciously controlled, measured and quantified.  We easily become blinded with economics, status, image and linear developments.  We only have to look at developments in yoga today to realise that we are not free of this same bias.  We are apparently obsessed with methods, techniques,  mats, blocks, books, the latest video, gurus of all sorts, organisations and schools of yoga, training for teachers, standards, certification, affiliation, recognition; you name it.  In so many instances we are losing the space for the spontaneous, the creative, the intuitive, and the spiritual.


If we tried to steer our car with all the emphasis on one side  we should soon be in trouble.  If your tracking is even only slightly out, at the very least you will wear your tyres unevenly.  At worst your car will become unmanageable and erractic.  Driving it will be difficult, tiring and  dangerous.  The wheels on each side must be balanced, and working in union.  Together they will move the car safely and smoothly towards its destination. 


The fifth wheel is the steering wheel.  This is the most important piece of the car which is under our direct control, and it is this which controls the wheels, and their direction of travel.  When we are new drivers, every manoeuvre is a conscious action.   We grip the wheel desparately.  We over compensate.  With experience, and repetition, we drive almost subconsciously, effortlessly and efficiently, with minumum stress and anxiety.  We have become at one with our machine.  The driver and the car are in yoga.

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