What does Tai Chi and other mindful exercise practices have to do with your driving ability? They can help you handle an immediate stressful multitasking situation more calmly, with more awareness and therefore more safely.
Imagine the driving scenario when you are merging onto the highway from an entrance lane. The traffic on the main motorway is busy, the speed is fast and it doesn't look like anyone is considerate enough to let you merge into their lane smoothly. Let's take a look at how a calm, relaxed, and in control driver would handle this situation.
Prior to merging onto a fast, busy motorway from an merging road you are aware of, and able to, let go of any excess tension in your mind and body & are able to keep a cool head in preparation for the stressful task ahead. Your shoulders are down, your grip is relaxed but controlled on the steering wheel, & your posture is comfortably straight. Yours senses are heightened and you proceed to - keep a 3 second distance from the car in front of you; simultaneously check if there's an unpredictable driver behind you; look in the mirrors to see if the driver on the left lane of the highway is going to slow down & let you in, or cut you off. Meanwhile you are aware of, but are not worried about the ever-shortening distance you have left before the merging lane ends. For those brief seconds you - ignore the song playing away on the car stereo system/the kids fighting in the back seat/the untimely question being asked/or the ringing of your hand phone - to place it on the all-important task milliseconds ahead. You are in the moment, aware of, but not flustered by, all these stressful factors. Your "intention" is to safely and seamlessly merge onto the motorway. Your hand lightly flicks on the indicator to give ample warning of your actions, you time the merge, you apply the correct pressure on the accelerator, and gently turn the steering wheel as you merge the car into the left lane of the motorway. If anything unpredictable happens you calmly react and are aware of the safe options available to you in that moment.
A mindful exercise like Tai Chi develops the ability to clear the clutter from your thoughts & tension in your body, cultivate a light-relaxed awareness that allows you to calmly respond "in the moment" to such a common stressful scenario - making you a safer driver.
Authour - Lee Chang Tye