Last week my husband surprised me with a day on the track at Mazda Race Way in Monterey CA. The organization, Hooked on Driving hosted the day and they put coaches in the passenger seat of your car to teach you how to drive the track. I'd driven this track many time and here’s a video of a lap on the same track in 2009, pre-GoPro days which I also included at the end of this post.
I invited a coach to ride with me for the first 20-minute session and after my first lap he began to provide instructions through the microphone wedged between my helmet and ear. It had been over a year since driving this particular track so I wasn’t surprise my line was a bit rusty and it took a few laps to settle in.
As I approached turn 2, the fastest turn on the track, I heard his words and they didn’t quite make sense. At around 100 miles an hour, I ignored the message from my body, which said, “slow down and ask for clarity.”
The driver in the care behind me caught what happened next on a camera mounted on the side of the car and sent me this 24 second video clip. The little spot down the track is me in the car. I dive into turn 2 and apply breaks while still turning….a big no-no.
How you do one thing is the way you do everything
If you tend to push through and ignore your body when it says “slow down", you may find yourself in sticky situations feeling like you need to brace yourself for the impact of a collision. The driving coaches teach that to go fast you need to first go slow to learn the line of the track. What I appreciated about this experience firstly was no physical damages to people or vehicles! Secondly, were the lessons.
Lesson one: Consider this a metaphor for life
If you’re human and breathing, it’s pretty likely you’ve had moments where you felt yourself whip into a spin.
Here are steps to find your way back on track when you spin and get scared.
ALLOW: Be with what is. When you feel yourself going into a spin, drop all resistance to what wants to happen. Slow down and take in the feedback from the environment around you. In that space you will feel what wants to happen with more clarity.
If I had fought the wheel and continued to push through I would very likely have spun more and possibly gone completely off the track. So instead, as I felt the car loose traction and the rear wheels whip into a spin, I released the tension on the steering wheel, pushed the clutch in and went along for the ride. When the car settled to a stop and my coach and I now faced oncoming traffic.
In that brief moment of terror, as cars came around the corner, rather than stay frozen and stuck in this place of fear, I paused for a moment to take in the environment around me. I then noticed my body began to move slowly with deliberate clarity. My hand turned the key and pushed the button to start the engine. It then moved the shifter into first gear and wrapped fingers around steering wheel. My eyes scanned the track for cars and my feet pressed pedals. With each step I found my way back on track.
FEEL THE FEAR: Sometimes the human experience feels scary. We asked to be in these bodies to feel. Be with the fear. Free-flowing fear invites focused attention, instincts and intuition.
Next time you start to spin and you feel scared ask yourself the question, “What action needs to be taken?” Then do that. It may take great courage and feel like a leap. Getting unstuck can feel quite challenging when you resist what wants to happen. When you relax into the experience, you’ll feel the pull to find your way back on track.
After the fear moves through, ask the question “What do I want now?” Listen for the internal wisdom, let your body guide you and do THAT. Then ask again, “What do I want now?” Repeat.
AWARENESS: Notice the pattern that happened right before the spin. In that moment, I muted my inner guidance system and tried something new before having clarity. Good to know and fortunately in that moment, no big deal.
COMMIT: Ask yourself what new pattern will create joy and when you notice an old pattern happening before the spin, slow down and allow space to practice the new pattern.
TRUST: Find evidence where you’ve found you’re way back before. When you do spin, there is always a way back on track.
SELF-COMPASSION: Be gentle with yourself when you do spin and rest when your body asks for a break. We all spin. You are never alone. I pulled of the track, dropped off the coach, took a few moments to settle back into my body.
(If you found this interesting, check out my previous post, Return Home After The Fall.)
Lesson two: Lift your eyes to see what is waiting for you
Later, in a coaching de-brief, I asked how far ahead do you look on the track?
The answer, “So far, you can see your tail lights.”
I laughed and then thought about it and this made perfect sense. New drivers tend to get hyper focused on what is right in front of them and don’t lift their eyes to look way down the track. He also said allow your eyes to dance between the turn in front of you, the driver in front of you, the track way out in front of you and your rear view mirror.
When you keep a tight focus on the turn in front of you, you miss what wants to happen ahead. Lift your eyes and find your track, it's always there waiting for you to show up.
After returning to the track, it took a few sessions to find my way and by the last two sessions, my hands were dancing on the wheel, my eyes taking in the whole environment and my body felt great joy!
I love hearing your stories and learning from you! Please share in the comments below about how you find your track after a spin.
May you always remember to lift your eyes and see the magnificence waiting for you to take the next step and track your life in joy.
See you on the track! Vroom, vroom.