Saturday afternoon drive: Then the car becomes a meditation chamber

The basic instructions for beginning meditation are to sit quietly and concentrate on nothing but your breathing for five minutes. Simple enough, right? I can’t do it for ten seconds. I can turn down the lights, burn all the incense and play all the soothing music I want but, after the briefest pause, my brain will recommence to whirr, instantly, uncontrollably.

Until I get on that blissfully empty stretch of open road, that is. Then the car becomes a meditation chamber. It all happens by itself. Breathing slows, the benevolent sky swells out, almost always a blue so pure, clean and enamelled that even worries of climatic catastrophe recede for a moment. Maybe there are some clouds, artfully arranged. Choose your moment to leave town — I like to leave at around 5am, just before rush hour — and there won’t even be any traffic to speak of. Just the white noise of the purring engine to amplify the calm, blissful silence, which will at last find its way into even the most stubbornly busy mind.

Dropping into the Central Valley from the mountains surrounding the Tejon Pass is like breaking open a petit four, getting past the glossy, pretty exterior: inside is the cake. The urban surfaces of California are what we see in movies and on TV: slick, manufactured, shouting, cajoling, bamboozling, seducing, ready to sell you something. And then the confected beauty of the city gives way; now the land reaches far out to the sky. Your ears pop from the pressure change, and a sign advises you that the next gas station is 19 miles off.

~ Maria Bustillos, from “On the Road” (Aeon, May 2, 2013)

Sources: Quote – Andrew Sullivan, Ode to Highway. Photo: Guy Le Querrec (via newthom)


  1. pretty as a petit four. leave the bamboozling behind and go.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I say whatever works for you is perfect! Just do it often 🚗⛵️✈️🙏🏻

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Yes!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Perhaps a day trip is in order, pal?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Beautiful…
    I was never able to sit myself into meditation. I tried few times a long time ago. I read something a day or two ago and for the life of me I can’t remember where, about all of us being born in a meditative state. It’s about staying there. I can be there doing the dishes, but not sitting in silence with the intention of meditating.
    I’ll save you my analogy. 😉

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I can’t slow down enough to meditate but I can sure ride. Love your stuff.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. All of us find our quiet place. Mine is not in a car!😉

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Christie says:

    Love, love the Image!..Breath deep as each breath is a gift….Ah nothing like driving through the countryside with the windows down and that rock n roll, or some old Blues, blasting..sometimes the music varies, Tom Petty seeks in and Eric Clapton’s ‘Pilgrim’ always in the Deck, cued up…sometimes I employ the air conditioned seats…/// I spend time on the garden bed, take care of my PT exercises, read, listen to music, rest, watch the beauty of life emerge in the garden and I watch the clouds overhead, often snapping some photos of them…I just love to unwind out in nature…/// I made cabin rental arrangements, last night…along a world class river…and I think of what “Maria Bustillos” said about the noise of the urban California areas and I think of what the nice lady we are renting the cabin from said…”A women from LA who rented the cabin couldn’t sleep because the ‘River’ is Too Noisy!!! I am so looking forward to the Peace and beauty of that River!! We’re going to the Ocean, too…haven’t been since last September! So enlightening it is walking along the beach…gazing at the beauty, listening to the surf, feeling that wind, smelling freshest of air…nirvana, perhaps? /// had to chuckle at the no gas for 19 miles line, we go through an area where a sign said No Services (no cell coverage for our carrier) for 89 miles, absolute isolation… as we drive along…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Christie. Love the evocative imagery of your words: We’re going to the ocean. Especially where you live. And with Petty and Clapton playing on the journey, not sure it gets better than that.


  9. I can’t sit still and meditate for the life of me… my meditation happens on my walks with Zeke, camera in hand. It’s amazing how the brain can totally shut off while focusing on some flower or bug or watching the water flow over the rocks in a little stream. And I have to agree, a car ride is pretty much up there in letting it all go…

    Liked by 1 person

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