Meditation, too, is a good drive (Hindu) We are on the road, driving with the mind wandering to our office, home or elsewhere, but rarely do we drive in complete awareness.

Chennai: A car stops right in the middle of the busy Nageswara Road in front of the CHILDS Trust Hospital. The driver opens the door for the passengers to get off and slowly moves on.

Even before the signal turns green, a Toyota Qualis driver is honking madly at a scooterist in front of him at the Independence Day park roundabout. He wants the scooterist to beat the signal and move on.

On the busy stretch toward Nelson Manickam Road subway, a driver is moving at his own pace, lost in conversation with the person next to him — neither picking up speed nor moving aside.

On Sterling Road, the traffic toward Tank Bund Road takes aeons to make way for an ambulance rushing a critically ill patient to the hospital.

These may not count as gross traffic violations, but innumerable such instances take place each day on Chennai city roads, that point to one single factor — lack of awareness of the fundamental principles of driving/riding.

Shanthi Prasad has been driving several cars in the country and abroad for the past 20 years. Initially, she was driving around lost in thought. But now the practice of meditation has sharpened the awareness of her surroundings and her driving has acquired more skill and focus, she says. “We may have the best car and the skills, but we rarely have the presence of mind. We are on the road, driving with the mind wandering to our office, home or elsewhere, but rarely do we drive in complete awareness.”

Swaran Singh, Managing Director of the Tamil Nadu Water Supply and Drainage Board, says that in his experience of organising yoga and meditation programmes for Metropolitan Transport Corporation drivers and conductors, “drivers who are at peace at home and in office are at peace with the steering. It makes them drive without any stress or tension. This has a direct bearing on the reduction in the number of accidents. A driver without tension becomes a vehicle-friendly driver.” The MTC had submitted a report to the Union Government on how yoga and meditation had helped to reduce the number of accidents by MTC drivers.

N. Ramakrishnan, senior consultant in Critical Care and Sleep Medicine at the Apollo Hospital, and heading the Nithra Institute of Sleep Sciences, says that sleepiness while driving is a common reason for motor accidents. With increasing night shifts, employees suffer from lack of sleep.

There are other sleep-related problems such as hyper somnolence and sleep apnea, which require holistic treatment with medicines, pranic healing, meditation and other individualised relaxation techniques, he says. He is organising a programme on January 20 on sleepy driving at the Nithra Institute to come up in Anna Nagar.

Swamini Gambhirananda, who conducts several yoga programmes through the Shiv Darshan Yoga Alaya, says practice of yoga develops the awareness as driving, like any other activity, is connected to the mind.

“Mistakes happen only through mind and not body. When the mind is tense, it reflects in the driving,” she says.

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