Meditation and Driving

MeditationModern life is full of stress and anxiety.  It’s no wonder that many people seek out ways to bring calm and quiet into their lives. Meditation provides an opportunity for clearing the mind of daily troubles and distractions to achieve mindfulness, focus, or true silence and relaxation.  The problem is finding time in a jam-packed day to devote to meditation.  Some people are turning to their daily commute as an opportune time for meditation.

Meditating and driving may seem initially to be at cross-purposes.  There are plenty of stories out there about people who were carried away by meditative music that they crashed into another car while driving.  Other stories warn about the dangers of drivers closing their eyes to focus on their breath and rear ending the car in front of them or driving off the side of the road.  Whether these stories are true or not, they raise real concerns about mixing meditation and driving.

Keeping those caution tales in mind, it is possible to practice some forms of meditation while driving. It just takes careful thought and choosing safe modes of meditation.

Benefits of Driving Meditation

Few things are as stressful as a long commute. Between slow-moving or standstill traffic and other drivers making sudden lane changes or otherwise acting unexpectedly, a commute is likely to make a driver irritable or anxious at best and enraged or neurotic at worst.

Practicing some form of meditation can relieve all that stress and anxiety and diffuse situations that might otherwise frustrate or enrage a driver.  Studies have proven that meditation relieves stress and increases both empathy and forgiveness in practitioners.  The latter two are extremely useful in dealing with fellow commuters.  As a bonus, meditation can improve blood pressure and improve overall mood.  All of these are good reasons to consider incorporating a limited form of meditation into the daily commute.

Safe Meditation

It is obviously not a good idea to attempt deeper forms of meditation that change perception or pull attention too far inward.  There are meditation practices that instead center on mindfulness, awareness, and focus and these can be beneficial when operating a moving vehicle in heavy traffic.

Here are a few basic meditation practices for use while driving:

  • Body Awareness — the simple act of being aware of breath, body position, and tensions within the body can lead to release of stress and relaxation of the body
  • Sound & Silence — experiment with driving in silence or with calming music as opposed to talk radio, loud music, or audio books. Turn off the blu tooth and just experience the ride.
  • Expand Awareness — instead of focusing only on the cars to the front, be mindful of all traffic including behind and far ahead.
  • Attitude Awareness — note, but do not judge, attitudes about other drivers and any emotions that come up as a result of the way others drive, and then release them rather than holding onto to anger, frustration, etc.
  • Mantra — create a mantra for the drive that serves the goal of mindfulness or awareness
  • Generosity Practice — yield to other drivers to make their commute easier and to every car that passes by or does something irritating say “May you be well. May you be happy.”

Using any of these practices on a daily basis can literally transform the commute from a dreaded part of the day into something restorative and enjoyable.  Some great sports stars use techniques like this and in the arts Richard Gere is a proponent.

Keeping Calm in Financial Crisis

The 2008 stock market crash affected the global economy. Financial companies and banks worldwide experienced significant losses. Companies in almost every sector were affected as investors reduced direct investments and people spent less. The collapse also brought about a series of job losses that ultimately affected the real estate and consumer durable markets.

dow averageAside from a plunging stock value, a range of financial problems can put a company in crisis. Rising operating costs for fuel, utilities and materials continue to threaten business competitiveness. Companies that were involved in illegal activities can incur significant legal costs paying for lawyers, fines or settlement agreements. Declining property value can also affect the ability of many small business owners to obtain financing since they use their residential properties as loan collateral. You will also find it difficult to secure investment if your business has a low credit rating because it indicates you’re a risky investment.

Even though your business may be going through a tough time, you can take simple steps to overcome a financial crisis. First, you should keep your employees, customers and industry regulators regularly informed of what’s happening in your company. Be alert in issuing statements to customers and the media to control reputation damage.  Be concise and make sure to release only verified information.

It’s also critical to manage your company’s cash flow to preserve cash. Reduce costs and plan expenses. Control credit by trying to collect debt efficiently. Offer discounts for early payments and large fees for late settlement. Work with an accountant to plan your cash flow. Look for ways to cut on needless spending. Consider performing tasks online such as bills payment and communications. Consider allowing some of your staff to work from home to lessen office costs.

Take this time to revisit your business model and reassess where your business is going. Perhaps you should focus on your line of business that is more profitable. Think of how you can market your products differently to suit present conditions. You may also want to develop other streams of revenue to help you weather the crisis.

Remain calm and optimistic. One way you could do this is to plan for a financial crisis in advance. It is very important for any business to establish a crisis management plan that will make coping much less stressful, minimize business interruption and prevent you from going out of business permanently.

When you have a plan in place to address an economic crisis, success is still possible. The dark clouds over your business will pass eventually, at which time your business will come out still in good financial health and ready to grab opportunities in an upswing.

Michael Mann is a forensic accountant and blogger who frequently contributes to finance and news blogs about both personal and business money matters.

Performance Enhancing Drugs and Racing

In any stressful environment where people are expected and nearly forced towards high goals, substance abuse is a big problem.  There is a reason lawyers, by profession, have one of the highest rates of substance abuse, and professional athletes get caught with drugs all the time.  When the pressure is on, some people like to take something that can take the edge off, or give them a little extra reaction time or endurance.  It’s true for professional sports, and it is certainly true for auto racing.

DUI and DWI take on a whole different meaning in the world of competitive racing.  Drivers aren’t so interested in driving drunk as they are with getting an extra edge on their competition.  Stimulants are the drug of choice because they give drivers faster reaction times and can increase their endurance, both of which are all too precious in long races like the Daytona 500 or 24 Hours at Le Mans.

But that isn’t the only place where the crimes take a new meaning.  Operating a car on the road while on drugs can impair drivers, but accidents aren’t always fatal because speeds are relatively low and there are, frankly, lots of buildings, parked cars, and lamp posts to hit.  Compare that to operating a car at 200 miles per hour around an oval track, just inches away from a driver trying to take your position.

nascar driverMost large racing organizations have instituted random drug testing to prevent drivers from getting behind the wheel impaired.  Last year NASCAR driver AJ Allmendinger was suspended for failing one of these tests just before the Coke Zero 400—he tested positive for stimulants.  While his suspension was eventually lifted, it was a clear reminder that the organization would not tolerate drugs in their drivers.

While stimulants are the drug of choice for most drivers, some also have trouble with alcohol.  NASCAR legend Morgan Sheperd, for example, struggled with alcoholism for some years until he found religion.  Sheperd, still racing at 70 years old, to this day operates a charity.  Sure, his team currently isn’t so hot, but his story is one for the history books.

Substance abuse is rampant in many parts of our society, and racing is no exception.  Whether it’s alcohol or stimulants, every so often a driver gets caught with one.  But with the drug testing policies and procedures in place by major organizations, it is less of a problem than it has ever been.

Marc Pencelle is retired race driver who now writes about American racing and racers like Jimmie Johnson.  His work has appeared in race magazines, sports blogs, and motosports sites.

Higher Power in AA

In all addiction recovery programs, Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Narcotics Anonymous (NA), Gamblers Anonymous (GA), Over-eaters Anonymous (OA), the higher power is perhaps the most important aspect of the recovery program.

The first three steps of the Alcoholics Anonymous program read as follows.

  1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable.
  2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
  3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.

Narcotics Anonymous and Gamblers Anonymous use similar language, but substitute “drugs” and “gambling” for “alcohol.” A higher power can be almost anything: it can be a traditional “God” figure, it be an addict’s sponsor, it can be the meetings that an alcoholic attends, or the addict’s family… the only requirement is that it be greater than the addict by him or herself.

A higher power is very important, because it is often the first step in an addict asking for help. Whether that help is in prayer, or is in a direct “Can you please help me?” question to their family, friends, or sponsor; belief in something greater that oneself will allow an addict to see solutions that he or she may not have thought of on his or her own.

It is often troublesome for alcoholics and drug and gambling addicts to come to terms with a higher power, because they feel very powerful in other aspects of their lives; they may be a CEO or an actress or a professional football player. The thinking can sometimes go along the lines of “Well, I’ve gotten here on my own, I can beat addiction on my own.” The problem with that though process, is that it usually turns out to be one of the lies of addiction; because even if an alcohol is the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, he or she may need to drink every night. This example of an alcoholic is very powerful the corporate world, but he or she can’t figure out how to go home and stay sober for just one night.

A common statement in recovery meetings is “Our best thinking got us here,” which means that left to their own devices, addicts don’t end up with carefree lives of ease. In order to move forward and lead quality lives, addicts need to turn over their will to a higher power, and no longer believe that they are all-powerful themselves. It is only when addicts come to recognize that they are powerless over their addiction that they can start to recover.
Contributed by Amber Cage. Besides being a popular “Mommy Blogger,” Ms. Cage has written about spirituality, health, and recovery topics for a variety of blogs, such as

Meditation Used at M.D. Anderson to Help Cancer Patients

Alejandro Chaoul left Argentina in 1996 to come to America and study religion at Rice University.   As with most great journeys, Chaoul’s path took an unexpected turn.

One day, Chaoul accompanied his father to the world renowned University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center (located in Houston, Texas).  That’s where he met the brave souls fighting cancer as well as the angelic health professionals providing them care and support.  It was as if Chaoul found his calling.

Wanting to help everyone suffering from cancer not just his father, Chaoul asked the hospital if he could teach a class in mediation.  After all, he had been studying mediation for more than a decade and he knew hospitals used it (although rarely for cancer patients).  It took more than a year but M.D. Anderson Cancer Center finally allowed Chaoul to teach a class.  He called it “Connecting With Your Heart.” Chaoul’s class became so popular that he was hired by M.D. Anderson in 2000.  Later that year, he was part of a research project (eventually published in 2004) that found that meditation helps cancer patients get more (and better) sleep,

In 2006, Chaoul was part of a $2.4 million study about the health benefits of Tibetan yoga and meditation for women with breast cancer.  The study has yet to yield any findings as the data is still being processed.   The Argentinian’s class began with some basic techniques.  After getting comfortable he began to employ Tibetan sound meditation.  The technique helps patients with memory loss, a common side effect of chemotherapy.

One of Chaoul’s recent students is Bree Sandlin.  The 37-year-old works in the high-stress, high-pressure field of marketing.  She also has twin 5-year-old boys—one of whom suffers from cerebral palsy.  That alone would overtax most mortal humans but in July Sandlin was diagnosed with breast cancer.  Sandlin was skeptical of Chaoul’s class but heard so many good things about it that she decided to give it a try.  She soon discovered that Chaoul’s visualization and breathing techniques helped her free her mind and to release her frustrations.  Meditation didn’t cure Sandlin but it has certainly helped her cope with her disease and achieve a sense of calm that was hitherto absent in her life.

Chaoul’s classes are open to everyone but they generally include cancer patients, cancer survivors, and their relatives.

Spiritual Approaches to Healing


The connection between the body and the mind is one that has been argued and considered for a very long time.  The ancient Greek philosophers considered it as one of the fundamental questions in the nature of the human character.  When it comes up again, making its way from the recesses of deep philosophy into mainstream thought, people tend to circle through the same arguments that have been circulating for centuries.  So when there are discussions about the mind in regards to healing, there are always plentiful resources available for fodder for good conversations.


This means that whenever people are discussing health topics, the question of spiritual approach invites a wide spectrum of beliefs and opinions.  There are hard empiricists who will always maintain that health is a question of cause and effect.  Most of the arguments from the spiritual side of things also have this same conclusion, but the nature of the causes and effects might vary.  The popularity of holistic approaches to health also makes wider berth for definition in terms of cause and effect.  While the strictures of western medicine seem to limit these causes to abnormalities in the body, or invasion of germs or bacteria, the holistic approach begins to acknowledge other factors, and not the least of these is mood.


While mood, attitude, or outlook may have very little to do with some health crises, where some diseases of the body are only the outcome of an unfortunate chain of events, there are cases of spontaneous healing that make room for other notions of health in general.  The older ways are making their way back into contemporary thought, and processes like dowsing do show some remarkable successes.  In some cases, then, the openness of the patient to alternative forms of healing does seem to play a part in the success of the treatment.


Likewise, there are more people looking into alternatives for mundane health events.  Finding ways to help headaches, mild anxiety, or for detoxification are a part of the trend toward bringing old and new together.  The best of modern medical science and the best of ancient healing techniques do seem to share a lot more than they differ, and the closer the practitioners work toward integrating these, the more fodder the healing community has with which to work, trending toward a welcome and enlightening view of the body, mind, and spirit.  They can certainly be treated separately, but something of a geometric progression does seem to occur often when they are treated together.


Enlightenment for Free


It is necessary to get away from everything every once in awhile.  This is the basis of the idea of the vacation, where, for at least two weeks out of the year, people who work mainstream jobs get to spend time getting rest and perspective.  Rest and perspective certainly do go hand in hand, and that goes for anyone, regardless of the kind of work.  But when it comes to lifestyles that don’t necessarily accommodate the vacation schedule others might have, there are options.


For anyone, in any kind of work or not, meditation is a key.  It’s a key that opens up the same kinds of doors that a vacation can, and the good news is that one won’t have to borrow a lot of money to do it.  For those who do want to spend money, thee certainly are opportunities in the meditation community, and plenty of wise investments, but the very nice thing about it is that at its core, it is free.


The practice of sitting still and looking within is very, very old.  The most developed practices in meditation come from the East, where traditions of Buddhism and Hinduism have evolved over the centuries.  The essence of the practice is still the same, however.  It requires that one sit still, spine straight, and begin to focus on the breath, and then just be.  There are other traditions from other parts of the world, including variations in the multiple sects of the Judeo-Christian frameworks, and some of these involve a straight back, and others do not.  There are also more local traditions in most parts of the habitable planet, where indigenous ritual practices influence the meditation practices that are all very interesting to learn.


Not all of these paths are open to anyone, and with some deeper forms of meditation, they really have to be closed, because there are dangers as well as benefits in some of the more esoteric forms.  Some of these can be studied through formal meditation institutions, where loans from can be the way in.  Still others have to be found along the way.  In closed traditions, it’s not really possible to learn, and often very disrespectful to try, but there are those who might serve as a bridge between worlds, and wisdom from the contemporary world meets with the old knowledge to create something else entirely.


It is what it is, and meditation is exactly that.  There is no need to travel far distances, and no need to spend a lot of money on the hotel.  It is an internal space, and often so close that it takes forever to find.  But it does have the benefit of refreshing the mind and body, and making connections to those things that are larger than us, and still contained within us.

How an Alcohol Treatment Center Could Help You

There are several ways that an alcohol treatment center can help you get your life back, get sober and stay sober. Through different stages of getting your sobriety back, you may find yourself in need of a treatment center.


If you have been drinking heavily and regularly for some time, stopping cold turkey can take an extreme toll on your mind and your body. The detox process can be very trying and dangerous. By entering a treatment center you will be monitored closely during your detox, with qualified staff making sure that you are okay and that you get all the support that you require, including medical help if needed.


The main reason that people check into an alcohol treatment center is to get sober and stay sober. You’ll be able to focus on the reasons that led to your alcohol issues in a safe environment. You will also receive counselling and assistance that will be key once your program is over and you are back in your life.


If you have been sober for some time and feel that you are in danger of relapsing, then you can spend some time in a treatment center getting your focus back and dealing with the reasons you think you may slip. Whether it’s simply meeting with a counsellor or checking in for a while, a treatment center can help you stay on track and resist the urge to drink, even after you’ve been dry for a while.

Alcohol treatment centers can be an invaluable resource and for some a real life saver. At all points of your journey, from the decision to get sober through those moments you struggle with sobriety, you may find yourself in need of a treatment facility.

When Buddhism Meets Physics

The revelation that the perceiver affects the perceived was a notion that turned the physical universe into something entirely other, at least in terms of how the thinkers of their time were perceiving that universe. If the one who is seeing is also affecting the thing they are looking at, then there is no objective point from which to measure anything. All measurements are subject to closer examination, and every closer examination will continue to affect the phenomenon. This seems to suggest that everything is dependent on everything, and that there are no subjects, no objects, and no moments that can exist on their own.

This revelation was not the property of Heisenberg in the early part of the 20th century, because it was the same revelation that formed the center of Buddhist thought quite a few centuries earlier. Today, with movies like “Tree of Life” in popular consciousness, the connections between quantum physics and Buddhism are probably not very surprising. Within the scientific and spiritual communities, however, the connections have been subject to consideration and deliberation for some time. It may be a far stretch to look at some of Einstein’s more famous quotes, such as the quip on god playing dice, from a Buddhist perspective. Perhaps the connections are only incidental. On the other hand, looking past the surface of his biography into the more complex spiritual ideas, there are more connections than differences.

When the Dalai Lama visits the University of Innsbruck to discuss quantum theory, then things really are taking a sudden leap, and one that would resemble some of the more unstable molecules, if there were not already a lineage of mutual interest between the subjects. Where some of the basic physics games can help young people develop an interest and appreciation for the natural world in general, and scientific phenomena in particular, there is always something a little big magical about them. The physical world is an enchanted and enchanting place, and it does seem to have a way of reflecting back when one starts to contemplate it. Sometimes it seems as though studying it, putting it under a microscope and examining the strange behaviors of its cells, is a step in the direction of absolutes. Revelations that turn these experiments in new directions, away from any positivist sense of continuity, can offer the same insights that meditation can. This connection is enough to keep the relationship between science and mysticism active, as if there were two sides of the same coin, unless there is no coin at all.

Meditating in Calgary

Meditation in a cold place is an experience that is impossible to replicate anywhere else.  Of course, in the bigger sense, everything that is, is right now and right here.  But anyone who’s lived in warm places and cold places has had the experience that only the cold can provide.

Calgary does have its temperate seasons, and there are some rather gorgeous days even in the middle of winter.  It’s rare, however, that someone new will move to town solely because of the weather.  People come to find an apartment, perhaps using a real estate company like Starlight Investments Ltd., here for the same reasons they do anywhere else: family, friends, a job, a love.  People who have strong connections with their meditation centers back home are able to find a community here that they can learn from.  There is a very nice array of centers and styles for meditation in Calgary, with a vibrant and always-shifting community of practitioners.

It always takes awhile to settle in anywhere, and in regards to spiritual practices, that can be a more delicate transition.  Although every city has its share of yoga studios, it can take awhile to find the right one.  And it is a lot like the lessons in meditation, where sometimes it takes time to just sit and be, in order to realize that this is the right place right now.  It can also be a question of finding the right teacher, and that can take a very long time.  Until that perfect moment does arrive, however, there are some lovely offerings in Calgary, for practitioners of all levels.

For strict meditation, there are meditation and zen centers where the focus is the same as it is everywhere else in the world: on the breath.  The centers are welcome to newcomers, and can also certainly accommodate those who have been studying for some time.  In any of these communities, one can have the profound experience of waking up.  It is a remarkable thing, too, to come to a new city where it might be a little daunting at first, and make discoveries while it is freezing cold and there is snow on the ground.  The winters in the Great White North can be daunting, and even overwhelming, but with meditation, one can become more attuned to the subtle changes as well as the sudden shifts.  Becoming connected to the cycles of nature here can be as transformative as anywhere else, and that’s to say, just right.