A couple months ago, I was running errands on my lunch hour, and one of my stops was picking up Kimchi at the Korean grocery store. I was clamped on to this goal of making three stops in 55 minutes, and if I didn't get them accomplished, my control hold over the day would slip, and not only would my afternoon crumble beneath me, but I'd have to make it up tomorrow, wasting extra gas and mileage. So although I was aiming to be as efficient as possible, I wasn't focussed and clear-headed- I was clinging and distracted, leaning into my errand-run with a breathlessness reserved for Tarzan-swinging through the jungle.
To my great satisfaction, I found a good parking spot by the store on the first go-round, and as I approached the entrance, I suddenly alit on reassuring thought- there was a door! Exactly what I needed- brakes! Something to make me slow down! And I knew that in about 15 steps I'd get a chance to decelerate as I pulled the door toward me. With that widening bracing step, my mind, which had a train of thoughts screaming through it, would have a chance to get back in sync with the rhythm of my body and I could have a "moment" in the present. Relief!
It was a bit of a funny revelation, I thought afterwards. I wondered why I couldn't just stop on my own accord and take a couple breaths while I was in the car. Could it be costlier to my ego, which feeds off my busyness, to stop completely than to depend on outside solid objects to keep my mental activity in check? No wonder spiritual teachers call us "robots".