No one wants to be angry with a fellow human being who is lost or confused, but if we get stuck driving behind one, we may find ourselves feeling wildly, uncharacteristically impatient. It is our earnest goal to have compassion and love for other people, but when one of them cuts us off, we feel personally offended, angry, and hurt. The good news is that by experiencing these difficult emotions, we have the opportunity to see ourselves and change our approach. In that light, being stuck in traffic can become a vital part of our spiritual practice.
Sages of all faiths agree that the present moment is the only thing that really exists. The past and future are equally irrelevant in the presence of the now. Therefore, at the deepest level, there is nowhere to go, because the only place we need to be is here, now. Just reminding ourselves of this in the midst of traffic can be extraordinarily helpful. The Zen mantra "Nowhere to go / No one to be / Nothing to do" can work wonders on our panicky misperception that we need to get somewhere fast. By remaining in the moment, we inevitably get to our destination. We don't need to push or rush or panic.
Another tool, used throughout the ages to maintain enlightened awareness, is breath meditation. The simple act of consciously inhaling and exhaling grounds us in our bodies, reminding us where we are, who we are, and how precious our life is. When we connect deeply to our own existence in this way, many of the petty thoughts and feelings that can dominate our minds dissolve without any effort. We have breathed our way back to sanity.
From this place of awareness, we can feel compassion for the drivers who are banging their steering wheels and honking their horns, even if they are honking at us. We know it is not personal; they have simply lost perspective. On your exhale, send out a wish that they, too, find the cool ease of the present moment.