Driving provides fertile ground for observing habituated responses. Whether it is driving the same route to work each day on autopilot - not really knowing how you got where you were going, or sending the fire finger to the driver who cut you off unexpectedly - many of us can say we have been zombies behind the wheel.

Take stop signs. We see red octagon, we stop, then go. Usually.

Today I did just that while driving through Lake Linganore. I saw the sign, and stopped. But this time, it was different than the usual habituated stop and go. I softened. I breathed. I smiled. Why?

Because taped below the standard octagonal sign is a child's simple message - carefully decorated and gently stated - "Please Stop. Thank You." First off, Miss Manners would be proud. But more importantly, it is a reminder that built into our own traffic control system is an opportunity to pause. Rather than seeing the stop sign as a necessary inconvenience, we can use it as a visual bell of awareness.

See red. Stop. Breathe. Proceed mindfully. And don't forget to smile.

Author's Bio: 

Heather K. Whittington is a certified Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy practitioner and meditation instructor in Frederick, Maryland. The blend of classical yoga with modern psychology found in PRYT supports Heather's personal mission of "empowering people to be fully alive," while nurturing her own well being and spirit. Learn more about Heather at http://www.MarylandYogaTherapy.com .