As a recent college graduate, I’m just getting into the swing of a full-time job and with that new position comes a tagalong friend-the commute. For many of us, commuting is relatively looked at as a hassle, a waste of time and a blackhole of everything good. At least for me, at first, that’s the way I saw it. However, after doing some soul-searching and becoming more in tune with myself, I came to realize the commute I dreaded could be turned into something I absolutely look forward to: personal time! Instead of seeing my one hour ride to work as something mandatory and emotionally encompassing, I began to find ways to make it enjoyable.
The most impactful thing in this world is our ability to decide when we want to make a change and go full force into putting that into action. Sure it is easy peasy to sit idly by and let the woes of life get you down, but how much better it feels to take a stand against the mundane and help yourself feel better. Seriously, it doesn’t take much to be able to switch your outlook and turn the bad into good. After doing a bit of research, I found that a startling 2 million people use some sort of meditation app on the go and that incorporating a routine meditation led to lower blood pressure as well as less stress throughout the day. Since the commute is what put the rest of my day in motion, I decided to test this out en route to work. Here’s how I was able to change my situation by guidance of the powerful three M’s:
It has been said that the mind is the maker of our realties, what is thought internally becomes our external world. So naturally the best place for me to start to eliminate the hustle and bustle was to meditate. At first, I admit, it was hard. I mean there are all sorts of odd noises on the train: a man coughing, a baby crying, a person squirming next to you…trust me, Buddha would agree. Yet, I found a way to do it and by adapting to my surroundings, I now find peace for a quarter of my commute-shout out to the makers of the Simply Being app and writers on PD. I find the best meditation type to use en-route is a guided, mantra-based one. It allows you to recenter yourself when your mind to starts to wander to what’s going on two seats ahead or what assignments you’ll need to complete at work. Gentle background noise mixed with an even gentler voice telling you to just breathe, literally does wonders. From incorporating meditation into my mornings, I now have a sense of peace and love about me throughout the day. This feeling can be linked to the known benefit that meditation brings to the body-an increase in serotonin levels as well as GABA levels in the brain. These two chemicals control happiness and calm moods, so when they are boosted, you automatically changed your outlook.
Another great thing about the morning commute is my ability to practice mindfulness. When most of the day feels like it whizzes by with to-do lists, the time I have on the train is a chance to appreciate my surroundings. I’m able to go from a beach setting to a great city in one hour, to me, that’s a cause for appreciation. Truthfully, the ride allows me to connect with the outside world even while being on the inside. Since most of my day is spent within the same four walls, working on a computer, it is a really great time to alleviate any stress and heighten my sensitivity to nature. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at the things you’ll notice when you stop and take the time to look around.
Outside of just being able to meditate, and practice mindfulness to boost my inner self, I’m able to reconnect to things I am passionate about outside of work. I can catch up on reading various articles on my favorite websites or get ahead with my writing. Secretly, my favorite part of the commute is enjoying my breakfast (yes I’m unashamedly a total foodie). Just being able to sit still and consume my granola and blueberries with a cup of tea is not only relaxing but really helps me be me.
So yes, in theory, commuting is a rough time but it doesn’t have to stay like that! There is so much positivity that can be infused into it and taking just small steps to change your outlook is a start. If you aren’t taking a train and have to drive, which I can imagine exudes more stress if being cut off happens, you can still practice the “me” and “mindfulness” of the three M’s. Listen to relaxing music, open the windows to breathe in fresh air and keep reminding yourself that this is your time to be at peace.
Related: On Cooking As Meditation
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Photo: Eutah Mizushima via Unsplash