At this time of long journeys to visit friends, family and holiday destinations, I thought I would write the ideas that seemed to have helped both students and myself over the many miles travelled.
In no particular order…
- Invest in a 'sit upon' or two… These are those firm foam garden kneelers, available from garden centres, supermarkets, and all good general 'Poundlands'… Placed under your bottom on the horizontal part of the car seat, they level out and firm up the seat, so your sitting bones have clear feedback in order for your postural reflexes to work for you. Even if you have the 'best' car seat known to mankind, give this a try - it works!
- A second 'sit-upon' can be used between your sacrum (just above your coccyx) and the bottom of your car seat back - this can give you a little encouragement and reassurance after many hours' driving.
- Sometimes sit up on your sitting bones - if you have sufficient head-room - and don't lean back against the car seat's back at all. As you drive you can 'sway' and move with the motion by being balanced on your sitting bones. Your head is now balanced on the top of you in its best place, and your hip joints free to move. Honestly, it's really restful! (And about the only way that works on busses and coaches - next trip, try it!)
- When you feel tired, pull over, even into a simple lay-by, and hop. Yes, hop! You don't have to leave the ground very far, if at all, but there's something about hopping four or five times on each foot that re-awakens the whole system. Maybe because it's hopping and not jumping, it requires an awakening of our balance system. Sitting in a car will stimulate that system to go to sleep, and us with it.
- As you're driving along, remember this important point: you are still. The car is moving. If you feel rushed by the speeding traffic around you, or late, or just impatient to get there, allow yourself to 'Be' in your seat, noticing how the car is doing all the effort, cars are passing you by in each direction, but you are centred within your self and Being Still.
- If you find yourself 'about three feet in front of your car' in your mind or energy, quietly say, 'I Am' to yourself, or out loud, a few times. Feel your self come back within yourself, remember you are being carried by your car and not doing the moving yourself. You might wish you were 'there already', but the only place to be is in the now…. Each now brings you to the now of being there, but not before it is so.
- As you are driving along, bring your awareness to your hands and arms. Are your hands lightly resting on the steering wheel? Or are they pulling on it fit to pull it away from the dashboard? Or are you dragging it downwards into your lap? Lighten your hands - let your arms come from your back and allow your hands and fingers to flow around the wheel into soft contact - no gripping and squeezing!
- When on the motorway, or other safe (!!!) straight bit of road, sometimes take one hand and let it flatten out on the middle of your steering wheel; probably on the vehicle make's badge and/or your air bag area. Then the other, and if with both, guiding the wheel with the heel of your hand. Hopefully you will feel your hands and back connect, but this short-used position will still let your hands have a moment of opening out. (Your hands will be right there should you need to react quickly.)
- Sometimes wriggle your toes a bit and flex your ankles a little. Simple, but effective! (And don't forget to drink lots of water - the body needs water when travelling, even in a car, even though we know about water for flying!)
- As you drive along, let your eyes soften. Let all you are seeing in front of you come towards you, rather than your eyes tightly piercing the windscreen and impaling themselves on whatever it is you are looking at. This creates very tight and tired eyes! It also is often the cause of your head being poked forward - as it follows your tight eyes - and creating a stiff or sore neck.
- Take time to sense your pelvis and your hips, and let them soften. Let the car seat take your weight - no trying to levitate off it! Or collapsing down into it heavily - just a meeting and supporting. Let you legs go frequently; it's easy to have them hold and harden as you drive along….the one position and the hidden nerves of driving can stiffen them.
- Change your position often; this gives your body new feedback and stops it becoming too inert and bored. Use the 'sit-upon' for a bit, then take it out, use two, use one at the back, move the car seat back a notch, wind it up a bit at the base and/or the back rest…. Keep it interesting!
- When you stop, or need to look at Google Maps, or your Sat Nav, let what's on the screen come to your eyes, do not poke your head down and stick your eyes to the screen! And use that most magnificent of things, your arm, to bring your phone, tablet, or screen to you, not your head to it!
Now, safe miles and happy driving!