Rage No More (Within the Machine)
Posted On Oct 21, 2015
It’s time to bring some serenity skills to your drive time. We checked in with meditation master Jeff Kober, an inspiring expert involved with the Buick Happiness Campaign, to learn how we can rage less while on the road.
Andrew C. Stone
If you’re one of the many stressed-out motorists out there—honking, yelling, darting in and out of lanes, and fussing about things beyond your control—perhaps it’s time to learn how to unwind while moving to and fro. More than an unnecessary source of chaos in your car and font of stress in your life, irate driving may create dangerous conditions for others on the road. Are you ready for happy trails to be here again?
In July 2015, Buick hosted “24 Hours of Happiness Test Drive” event in LA (inspired by a poll that showed 57 percent of drivers expressing interest in ways to de-stress their driving). Buick gathered a panel of wellness experts—meditation master and actor Jeff Kober, Goodthink CEO and author Shaun Anchor, yoga instructor Chad Dennis, supermodel Bar Rafaeli, Moon Juice founder Amanda Chantal Bacon, jewelry designer Irene Neuwirth, and star masseuse Dr. Dot—to create a series of podcasts, online videos, and even an in-car aroma (from Bacon and Neuwirth) designed to bring calm to your car.
We stole some time with Kober, who made a short film and guided meditation for the event called The Buick Meditation Map (found at buick.com/happiness) and has some fantastic tips for serenity-starved speedsters.
NEW YOU: Jeff! The average chronically angry driver may feel like meditation is not accessible or available to him or her. How can this perception change?
JEFF KOBER: This concept is challenging to transcend because of our fierce identification with our thinking mind. Most of us spend nearly all our time, and lend most of our attention, to our own thoughts about the world, about each other, about what should or shouldn’t be happening in a given moment. We all are so attached and fascinated by our own thinking. And yet, if we were to allow ourselves the gift of transcending our thinking—as we do in meditation—we would rather quickly discover that our thinking is one of the least interesting aspects of ourselves, let alone of life. Our thinking is repetitive, nearly always the same, and keeps us giving ourselves the same experience. Life, on the other hand, is forever shifting and changing, forever new.
NY: Why is that so hard for people?
JK: When I look to my mind to determine what I should or should not be doing, it never will say to me, “You should embrace this technique that allows you to transcend the mind.” Why would it? This would be like expecting the thief to tell the jeweler how to make his shop more secure. The mind never will want to cede control; and yet the control it engages in continues to give me a less than satisfactory life. Simply by opening our idea of self to something greater than or larger than our thinking, we can become willing and able to move past this limited idea of what we are capable of doing.
NY: Why did it feel important to you to be a part of this event with Buick?
JK: The great thing about the Buick 24 Hours of Happiness Test Drive campaign is that this major American corporation is presenting the idea and the opportunity for happiness first—and only then suggesting that perhaps you might also like to buy one of its products. This to me signals a sea change in how we, as citizens of the West, are looking at the world. We’re beginning to notice, finally, that happiness does not come from having enough stuff, or the right kind of stuff. Happiness is something we find within, and once found, will begin to out picture itself in our life, reflected by the things and experiences we draw to ourselves. To be a part of this kind of project is like being in on the ground floor of what we will see from this point forward.
Who we are matters. As David Hawkins says, “We change the world not by what we do, but by what we have become.” Consciousness is expanding. People are waking up. Each awakened person will be an example to those they meet, who in turn will awaken more. Each company that embraces concepts of consciousness and wakefulness will in turn give permission to other companies to do the same. Buick with their happiness campaign, Patagonia with their sustainable manufacture.
NY: So! Million dollar question: When you’re feeling stressed behind the wheel, what is a quick way to calm the mind?
JK: Breath is always the quickest way to centering one’s self. Taking a deep breath, then letting it out slowly, paying attention to the way it feels coming in and going out, and then getting present to the evidence of our senses… How does my bottom feel on the seat, my hands on the wheel? What is the quality of light through the windshield? What am I hearing? Smelling? What can I taste? Coming back to this experience of “me,” I’ll be able to let go of some part of the stress I am putting myself under.
And remember: There are no stressful situations. There are only stressful responses. No matter the situation, there’s a way to move in the direction of acceptance, and thereby away from the experience of stress.