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Zen and the Art of [Car] Maintenance

October 10, 2012

The purpose of our instillation is to utilize the phenomenon “highway hypnosis” to help a user reach a meditative mindset. We will do this through projecting a landscape video onto a car while the user is sitting in the drivers seat. The rolling, repeating scenery and white noise of roaring wind mixed with the sound of rubber on asphalt, will guide the driver into a more meditative consciousness.   Through meditation they will feel less stressed, anxious, or depressed while also increasing their creativity, awareness, and focus.

According to the meditation instructor Bodhipaksa, driving can be a great method for “developing mindfulness and metta (lovingkindness), and it can even become a kind of meditation practice…” He suggests doing so by switching off the radio and experiencing silence, using your freed awareness to focus on tension and relax it, driving at or just below the speed limit, and by noticing your attitude (Bodhipaksa). Our instillation utilizes this advice through only using audio of wind and tires.

Driving is the act of practicing mindfullness. Through driving we can practice taking focus off of our destination and instead living in the moment (Nhá̂t, 1990). “Mindfulness” is a form of meditation that is “all about ‘being present’, letting your mind run, and accepting whatever thoughts com up, while practicing detachment from each thought.” It is also an observational practice rather than active (Bair, 2010). This “nondirective” form of meditation is what our instillation will attempt to encourage or foster (Brain Waves, 2010).

Meditation has been used to help reduce stress, anxiety, depression, and chronic pain. It can help us become more aware of the gap between stimulus as reaction and alert us before a stress reaction occurs. This could apply to reducing stress caused by traffic and the way drivers react to it (Baum, 2010). Meditation also reduce stress by increasing alpha brain waves which lower blood pressure, heart rate, and stress hormones. Gamma brain waves are also increased, subsequently decreasing anxiety/fear and depressive symptoms. Most important to our project, theta waves deepen relaxation, encourage creativity, and “make problem solving and memorization easier. Most people have also experience a theta state, for example, in the condition known as ‘highway hypnosis,’ wherein drivers can perform driving tasks so automatically that they don’t remember making the drive home…” (Barnfeld).

Bodhipaksa. “10 Tips for Mindful Driving.” Wildmind Buddhist Meditation, n.d. Web. 13 Oct. 2012. <;.

Nhá̂t, Hạnh. “Driving Meditation.” Present Moment, Wonderful Moment: Mindfulness Verses for Daily Living. Berkeley, CA: Parallax, 1990. N. pag. Print.

Bair, Asatar. “8 Basic Kinds of Meditation (And Why You Should Meditate On Your Heart).”8 Basic Kinds of Meditation (And Why You Should Meditate On Your Heart). Institute for Applied Meditation, 12 June 2010. Web. 13 Oct. 2012. <;.

Baum, Will, LCSW. “Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction: What It Is, How It Helps.”Psychology Today. Crisis Knocks, 18 Mar. 2010. Web. 13 Oct. 2012. <;.

Barnfeld, Amy. “Brain Waves in Meditation.” Project-Meditation.Org. Project Meditation, n.d. Web. 13 Oct. 2012. <;.

“Brain Waves and Meditation.” ScienceDaily, 31 Mar. 2010. Web. 05 Nov. 2012. <;.


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