Three Shortcuts to Inner Peace
Stop, Drop, and Roll
TRIGGER: When stopped at a red light.
TOOL : “Stop,” “drop” down into your heart, and “roll” out a little goodwill to your fellow travelers. Look at the people in other cars in front of you, behind you, passing around you, and recognize that each one of them is just like you: They want happiness and they want to be free from suffering. To each person you focus on say or think something like:
May you know happiness.
May you be free from suffering. Peace be with you. I hope you have a nice day.
May you be free from suffering.
Peace be with you.
I hope you have a nice day.
When I was a kid, we had a station wagon with a backseat that faced the back window of the car. So, if you happened to be sitting in the backseat, you actually looked directly at the cars behind you. Back in the day, most station wagons had this design feature.
Recently, I was having a stressful day, preoccupied with my thoughts and worries. As I was driving, I came to a stoplight behind an old- fashioned station wagon, and lo and behold, there were two small children in the backseat facing me. I must admit that it’s a bit unnerving at first to be face-to-face with someone at a stoplight when you are not accustomed to making eye contact.
I smiled at the children and the next thing I knew they were waving at me. Then I held up the peace sign, which they mimicked. The three of us laughed, and then the little girl blew me a kiss, which I returned. We were having such a love - fest that I actually felt a little sad when the light turned green. Those few moments of goodwill had changed my day — my heart felt lifted.
What a nice way to spend a pause at a red light, I thought. Most of us spend red lights either in unconsciousness, fretting about the future or the past, or grumbling at the driver who wasn’t going fast enough. Why not use red lights to wish a little goodwill to others? I mused.
Imagine if at every stoplight every person in every car was having thoughts of goodwill and kindness. Imagine if at every stoplight every person was aware, even for a moment, of their compassion for others. My prediction: Road rage would cease! We would have a very different world indeed.
Use this Shortcut to actually look at the people in the cars around you and remember for a moment that they have loved ones, jobs, worries, delights, fears, joys, and entire lives, just like you do. Connect for a brief moment and wish them well.
PURPOSE: This tool “quenches the fi re” of road rage by getting us out of our own little worlds. Commuting for many people can be the most stressful time in their workdays. Actively using this Shortcut gives us another way to be in the car. It opens us to our surroundings, expanding our sense of self by connecting with others who also wish for happiness and wish to be free from suffering. Warm feelings toward others activate the calming aspects of our own nervous systems. Opening our hearts with compassion, we experience a deeper sense of inner peace.