Sounds impossible right? You’re packed tight into a busy train, bus, tube or tram, sharing air and let’s face it, more personal space than you’d ever choose to with complete strangers. It’s standing room only hell. Even if you cycle to work, rush hour traffic can be less than easy. Sometimes you feel as though you’ve already done a day’s work by commuting and that’s before you even step foot into work. So just how do you become a mindful commuter? In this post we’ll show you how to meditate on your commute by taking a look at the benefits of mindfulness whilst commuting along with three easy ways to reduce the stress of your journey to work. Join us to discover how to create an inner state of calm on your commute.
How to Meditate on your Commute: The Unmindful Commute
One of the most stressful times of day, commuting isn’t much fun if you’re travelling at rush hour. Unless you can find a way to navigate the sea of stressed out commuters it can be a bumpy ride. We’ve been there, gridlocked traffic, packed trains, airport delays, queuing for buses, dropping down a pot hole whilst you’re cycling, dodging traffic or managing the frayed temper of fellow passengers. What if there was another way? Ta Da! Enter, the mindful commute and inner peace on your way to work.
How to Meditate on your Commute: The Benefits of a Mindful Commute
Research has demonstrated that practicing meditation on a regular basis will increase your resilience, lower your stress levels, decrease your blood pressure, enhance your immune system and increase your level of happiness (yes, even on a Monday morning). You’ll have greater focus and more clarity around your decision making when you finally arrive at your destination. What happens to us when we do it whilst we’re travelling? We feel less stressed, we’re certainly not as cranky as we could be and we’ve got a whole load more compassion for our fellow travellers than if we didn’t. What we love about mindful commuting is this; it just makes you realise that everyone is trying to get somewhere and it doesn’t have to be a battle (yes, that’s usually us saying ‘Hello’ to anything with four legs and fur). What’s not to like?
How to Meditate on your Commute: The Mindful Commuter
So you’re curious about mindfulness but a bit doubtful? Yes, we know it can be tricky when you’re getting intimate with twenty complete strangers in a confined space but we think it’s possible. We’re constantly travelling for work at PCG and these are tips and tricks that we use ourselves when we want to decompress. If you want to explore opportunities to be more mindful on your commute, we reckon these three practices are the perfect place to start. We’ve got you covered with this simple how to meditate on your commute guide. Whether it’s meditation on the train, meditation whilst driving or mindful walking, we’ve chosen three really easy, uber quick mindfulness on the move practices that you can do anywhere, anytime. So join us to train your brain and create a calmer commute.
How to Meditate on your Commute:
1. Start with an Intention and be Present
It’s easy to get caught up in thoughts or checking emails and before you know it, your commute is over. That’s why starting with an intention to have a mindful commute is crucial. Your intention will provide the focus for your journey. If you’re walking to a station, notice how your body feels as you take each step, the rhythm of your stride, how your balance shifts from left to right with each step, the contact between your feet and the ground. If you’re queuing for a train, plane or bus, bring your focus to any emotions that are present, are you anxious? do you feel stressed at the prospect of boarding? Are you preoccupied with finding a seat? Annoyed by your fellow commuters? Try not to judge yourself, just focus on the feelings without labelling them. Notice if you are holding tension in any area of your body, is your jaw tight? fists clenched? shoulders tense? or are you relaxed? Make an effort to notice your body and be present.
2. Take a Mindful Breath
This is a great starting point when you feel your stress levels rising. Shift your focus to your breath. Notice how the breath feels as you breathe in through your nostrils, is the air cool or warm as you breathe in? How about when you breathe out? Bring your attention to the gentle rise and fall of your chest as you breathe. Close your eyes if you need to (not if you’re driving!) and focus on the sensations in your body as you follow your breath all the way in through the nostrils, the nasal cavities, into the lungs and out again. Yes, you’ll be distracted by noises, station stops and announcements but that’s ok. Notice that you’ve been distracted and bring your focus back to your breathing. If it helps to count one, two, three on your in breath and one, two, three on your out breath to settle into your mindful commute then this can be a really useful grounding practice to help you settle into meditation.
3. Broaden Your Awareness
This second practice involves leaving your work emails alone, putting down your phone, paper or book and taking in your surroundings. Instead of distracting yourself from the journey notice what is going on around you. Broaden your awareness to take in those around you. Who are your fellow passengers? What are they doing? Take in the view from the window, what can you see? If you’re pounding the pavement, notice the architecture, the trees that you pass, the myriad shades of leaves. Feel the wind in your hair and the temperature against your skin. Notice anything and everything that is taking place in that moment. Take time to simply be on your commute, to actively and deliberately notice the sights, sounds and smells (coffee anyone?) of your journey.
Take these three how to practice mindfulness on your commute practices and make them part of your routine. Let us know how they work for you and if you have any practices of your own that you’d like to share we’d love to hear them. Prefer a guided meditation for your commute? We’ve got some fab free guided meditations between 5 and 12 minutes over on Sound Cloud https://soundcloud.com/positivechangeguru just perfect for your commute.
If you’d like to know more about mindfulness or mindfulness at work we’ve worked with Spotify, Google, the V&A, UK Sport, Central Government and Health Education England amongst others to optimise performance. We offer consultancy, mindfulness training courses, wellbeing days and conference sessions. To find out more contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org