And why was I running anyway?
Why do any of us run?
How did we get so speeded up in the first place?
When I slow down,
take a deep breath,
and look around with open eyes,
I see a beautiful life, my life,
watching me, wanting me to awaken.
Just observe how a dandelion seed floats on the wind,
or how the surf glides back along the wet sand into the ocean.
See the gentle ambling of a wide lazy river,
the way the willow leaves are rustled by the whispering summer breeze.
Witness the perfect unfolding of the sunrise, sunset,
the way the darkest of nights gives way to the light of day,
the way the coldest of winters melts into spring,
need I say more?
If I slow my body down
and move with my breath,
I notice subtle sensations I would’ve otherwise missed
in the hurried pace of the workaday world.
I see the gift of my body temple,
I am grateful beyond what I can say.
It’s in those little subtle places-
in those tiny little spaces-
where dance the mysteries of the universe.
Can you see them?
Those who hurry can not.
Let us slow down then,
and come back home to our true nature,
and remember that joy is here, now,
exactly where we are,
as we return to self,
as we once again embrace our own human being.
My husband told me about “hypermiling” the other day, how some guy holds the Guinness World Record for the highest MPG achieved in a vehicle. Having traded in our gas guzzling Dodge Durango for an extremely fuel efficient Toyota Prius V just one week ago, I was intrigued to see what I kind of MPG I might be able to reach if I were to employ some of the hypermiling techniques.
Call it the inner nerd. Call it the Mother Earth lover, who is feeling repentant for years of Type A driving. Call it the kid who likes to play games with numbers…whatever you call it, I’m now amazed at the power of slowing down.
The most basic idea of hypermiling is to accelerate gradually and to anticipate traffic. Take your time getting up to speed when the light turns green, and don’t exceed the posted speed limit. If you see a red light up ahead, just allow your car to gradually slow down, which will save some wear on the brakes and decrease fuel consumption. Take your foot off the gas going down a hill…
First of all, coming from where I come from, this is an entirely foreign–even scary–way of driving. Both of my parents were pretty overt road ragers…and I’m exaggerating only a little. Short of pulling out a gun and shooting people, or knowingly running people over, they pulled out every road rage trick in the book. As I child I would routinely hear curse words directed at other drivers, contempt for their choices, comments about their intelligence (or lack thereof), the assumption that they were actually trying to piss off the people around them. I’d see my parents get red in the face often, make impolite gestures on occasion, and in general drive in a way that invoked fear the other passengers of the car. I actually thought this was pretty normal, and would lash out in defense of this kind of behavior out of some kind of twisted loyalty to my upbringing whenever anyone would call me out for driving in a way similar to my parents. It’s a miracle I haven’t gotten very many speeding tickets in my life time as a driver. I should have gotten way more than I did.
One of my spiritual teachers, Eknath Easwaran, recommends slowing down as an essential aspect of spiritual evolution. He believed slowing down is so important that he made it one of the eight points in his system for spiritual living. Whenever I have read about his idea of slowing down, I have thought, “Yes, I can do that. Yes, that makes sense.” And I have slowed down in many ways–while I’m attending to household chores, while I’m interacting with my children, when I’m listening to a friend, or grocery shopping, eating a meal, or teaching a yoga class. But I never really managed to slow down my driving–not in a consistent manner anyway–until I learned about hypermiling.
Epiphany time, and pardon the crazed enthusiasm: OH MY GOSH I AM ONE THOUSAND PERCENT MORE RELAXED IN MY CAR! I CANNOT BELIEVE HOW PLEASANT DRIVING IS NOW! WHY DIDN’T I LEARN ABOUT THIS BEFORE?
Yes, it was precisely the moment that I decided to try this hypermiling thing out, and adhere to the speed limit, and coast along whenever I could, that I discovered how peaceful I can feel when I’m behind the wheel. Whereas before I was pretty much a constant bundle of nerves, suspicious of other drivers, uttering curse words under my breath when alone and inside my mind when the children were present–now I’m taking deep slow breaths, listening to peaceful music, and seeing life around me. I’m feeling more integrated with the other drivers, more in the flow of LIFE even. How could this be? But there it is. I’m discovering that by slowing down I’m arriving no later than I was before, but I certainly am arriving more calm and collected. And wonder of wonders, I’m actually enjoying the drive.
If you’re interested in learning about hypermiling stats and techniques, check out Wayne Gerdes site, www.cleanmpg.com. Fascinating stuff. Be sure to check out the rebuttal Wayne wrote in 2008 after AAA suggested that hypermilers are dangerous.