The average commute time per year is 200 hours, that’s nearly 9 full days of living!
This got me to thinking that the commute is an undeniably precious time to be had. I could chose to spend it mindfully by not being necessarily anywhere, but living fully in the between, which let’s be honest, is where most of life tends to happen.
The following practices are to share how life can be mesmirising in the most ordinary of situations…
1. I Listen To The Sounds Around Me
Train tracks rumbling under the carriage, the gentle hum of the car engine, a shuffle of a nearby passenger, the doors swishing open. Simply listen, simply observe. This is an incredible grounding technique which can be applied anywhere and everywhere to bring ourselves into the present moment. Tuning into sound helps to strengthen sensory experience of life which is often blocked out when the mind is clouded with thoughts. Suddenly, I started to hear the clocks tick again!
2. I Get Off Early & Explore The Remaining Journey
It could be a stop before my own one or parking a little further out than usual. I try to see if I can find a few different paths to the same destination. This starts firing neurons, gets my body moving and the serotonin flowing for exploration.
I often do this and am always arriving to my destination feeling fuller than if I make my commute the same fast-track every time. I would have seen different shops, different people, stumbled across a new cafe or experienced an interaction I may not have if my only concern was getting there on time. This is about turning off the auto-pilot which makes life mundane and turning on to discovery.
3. I Gift Myself Time
Nobody likes the feeling of being rushed. I have definitely been caught in the self perpetuating and sadistic cycle of leaving until the last minute and then observing that I was playing catch up, not just for the journey but for the rest of the day. Leaving a couple of trains or even 30 minutes early can give us the space we need, to embrace our journey without the clouded thought of being ‘late x wrenching gut’ combo. I find it makes me less reactive with the situations and people I encounter throughout the day. By gifting myself time, I am able to exist more fully not only for myself but for others too.
4. I Play Empathy With Passengers
A teacher once told me about a commute she had where another woman on the carriage was crying her eyes out after a conversation on the phone. Without saying a word, or even looking in her direction, she started to send her feelings of compassion and love, she did this, closing her eyes, throughout the entire remainder of the journey. When it was time for the woman to get off, she smiled and walked off the train. Energy speaks.
This is the practice of a loving kindness, a Buddhist meditation which encourages the wishing well of not only ourselves, our nearest and dearest but also those we encounter through the day, strangers and the world as a whole. We don’t need to seek out a crying passenger or even anyone in distress, loving kindness can be shared with anyone we encounter on our journey and helps to release happy hormones!
5. I Visualise
This is a really powerful technique to either review the day by watching a playback video tape unravelling in my mind and seeing if there are moments to pause and reflect on or be grateful for. It can also be used as a way to bring ourselves to a happy moment and focus in on all the details we see in that moment. It brings a smile to my face and reminds me how life can be utterly and sublimely beautiful, even when sitting on a creaky old train.
Will you try some of these on your commute? Or do you have any more practices which make your journey more mindful? Comment and let me know…