by Pride Transport | Jul 14, 2022
You might think of meditation and mindfulness as part of a yoga class, or something you do in a quiet place with your eyes closed as someone verbally guides you through a practice. In reality, mindfulness and meditation are much more than setting-specific activities. They’re also different from one another.
Meditation is the process of building habits to train your mind and increase your focus and awareness. General benefits of regular meditation include feeling calmer, physical relaxation, coping with illness and stress, and increasing mental well-being. Studies have shown that meditation reduces pain, lowers blood pressure, and even helps people quit smoking.
Mindfulness is a type of meditation that specifically focuses on being aware of what you’re currently experiencing. Breathing exercises and guided imagery are just two of many tools used to help you relax your body and mind. As an extension of meditation, many of the benefits of mindfulness are similar: stress and anxiety reduction, coping with pain and depression, and insomnia improvement have all been cited in studies around mindfulness.
So what do mindfulness and meditation have to do with truck driving? While you may not meditate while you drive (safety first!) the benefits that these two practices provide are extremely helpful for truck drivers.
Misconceptions of Mindfulness and Meditation
Chances are, you have a mental image of what meditation looks like. You probably have some ideas on what meditation practice involves, too. But what is meditation, really? Forbes broke down some of the myths around meditation, including:
Meditation is always still and silent. Nope! There are kinds of meditation where that’s true, but you can also get into a good, meditative mindset while you’re doing something predictable like walking, running, or singing a song you know well. The key is to focus on your breath while engaging in mindful movement. Treat whatever actions make you feel good like rituals!
Your mind can’t wander while you meditate. Actually, if you notice that your thoughts are wandering then that means you’re aware of your thoughts…so you’re doing it right! Bring those thoughts back to your focus and keep going
Meditation takes a long time. You don’t need to have hours of free time to meditate. You can benefit a lot from just a few moments of focused breathing!
You can benefit from meditation every once in a while. You can certainly refocus in just a few minutes, but most of the real benefits of meditation come when you practice consistently over time. So a few minutes at a time is fine, but try to do it every day. Crisis meditation is less impactful than habitual meditation.
Meditation is meant to make you feel calmer. In the long run, yes! But initially you might find some things in your thoughts that are uncomfortable. That’s ok! Sorting through those thoughts can be educational and improve your focus.
How Can Truck Driver Practice Mindful Driving
You might not think of meditation as a great thing to do while you drive, but it’s not all about closing your eyes! The Mayo Clinic has great ways to practice mindfulness, and plenty of them are very compatible with driving. They’re also super simple!
Pay attention to your surroundings and live in the moment.
Yes, this seems obvious when you’re driving. But in addition to keeping your eyes on the road, try to notice interesting things around you. Scenic landscapes, interesting cars, wildlife, kids who want you to honk your horn. This can also apply to music you might be listening to, foods you’re eating, or your favorite drink. Just take a moment to enjoy what is around you. (Bonus: this also helps you combat “road hypnosis.”)
Focus on your breathing.
If you’re stuck in traffic or having a rough day, take a moment to focus on your breath and tune out the negative thoughts you’re experiencing. Be accepting of your feelings, and think about how you’d talk to a best friend experiencing those thoughts.
Try a walking meditation session.
When it’s time for a break, take a slow walk and pay attention to how your body feels. What could use a good stretch? How is your breath? Walk somewhere that doesn’t have too many distractions, or use headphones to help you focus.
Benefits of Meditation and Mindfulness for Truck Drivers
While we know that meditation generally improves focus and reduces stress, let’s consider some of the ways the proven benefits of meditation are especially important to truck drivers.
- Meditation can reduce stress, as well as symptoms from stress-triggered medical conditions that truck drivers often face.
- Meditation helps control anxiety, including job-related anxiety, when practiced regularly.
- Meditation can improve symptoms of depression – especially beneficial for those in solitary work environments.
- Meditation can improve your attention span and prevent age-related memory loss, helping drivers be safer and increase mental clarity.
- Meditation can help combat addictions, including helping people quit smoking.
- Meditation can improve sleep habits, which are essential for truck drivers to stay safe on the road.
- Meditation is easily accessible. Truck drivers who are often on the go and don’t have access to a consistent in-person option to practice. You don’t need any special equipment to meditate!
Ready to try meditation, but not sure where to start? UCLA Health offers a list of free guided meditations to help you get started. There are also lots of great free mindfulness apps, as well as apps that offer paid subscriptions. Podcasts are another great option for free mindfulness and meditation practices.
Ultimately, meditation and mindfulness practices help drivers be more focused and stress-free — keeping everyone on the road safer. We’re dedicated to the safety of our drivers, with millions of safe miles to prove it. Check out our FAQ to learn more about how Pride Transport supports our drivers or see open positions on our team.