Practice Mindfulness During Your Morning Commute
by Rebecca Clio Gould
It All Clicked with the Morning Commute
I’ll tell you the truth about practicing mindfulness. There’s only one day every week that I have to face the morning commute and rush hour traffic, because all other mornings I work from home. But whether it was during a morning commute or just driving to the store, a yoga class, or to the park, I noticed a reoccurring theme: stress. If there was any sort of time pressure or traffic, my body would tense up, and my mind and emotional state could get pretty wonky too.
This awareness started several years back. See, I consider myself a pretty relaxed and laid back lady. I was all peace and love, but in the car, my zen could disappear just like that. I wouldn’t honk or have extreme road rage, but sometimes my thoughts towards other drivers were not loving or peaceful, not at all. So I started using my time in the car as a mindfulness practice; using driving as an active form of meditation.
Can Mindfulness Really Make a Difference?
Most people think of meditation as a time to shut their eyes, and to sit in perfect stillness and silence. And many guided meditations even warn you not to drive while listening to them. However, meditation is not just something to do in a quiet place, away from the distractions and actions of everyday life. If you can learn how to take your meditation out into the world, how to experience the benefits of mindfulness regardless of where you are and what you’re doing, that’s where some of the real magic is in living a more peaceful, happy, and healthy life.
And since the number one excuse people give for not meditating is not having the time for it, I’m going to show you how to get the benefits of mindfulness while driving in your car.
Spending time in your car gives you plenty of time to think. Many of my greatest ideas come to me while driving. But if you’re not careful, it can also be a time for tape loop thoughts and monkey mind to wreak havoc. And although turning on some music and singing along is a good way to quiet the mind, you can also use your commute to just simply notice your thoughts without following them down a long meandering path.
And if, like me, you sometimes feel irritated with other drivers, just notice those thoughts and feelings too. Are you really pissed off at that other driver? Maybe, yes, and maybe even rightfully so if they negligently cut you off or somehow almost getting you into an accident. But maybe you’re really pissed off at yourself or someone else in your life, or frustrated about some other situation. Now, don’t go down a rabbit hole of questioning and analyzing here. Just be open and curious. Notice your thoughts and feelings, and let them just be.
One way to stop your thoughts from distracting or upsetting you is to bring your attention back to your breath. Have you ever caught yourself holding your breath while concentrating? Perhaps while at your desk? Or when you’re behind the wheel of your car?
Let this be an opportunity to mindfully breathe while driving. Keeping your eyes open and on the road, of course, but become aware of your breath. Breathe deeply, slowly, and fully into your belly. And, especially if in bad traffic, try smiling with each breath. Try breathing in what it is you want for the day. And breathe out your gratitude for all the good you know is coming your way.
As you breathe mindfully, allow your body to relax. You can still remain alert and focused on the road. But just notice any bodily tension and breathe it away, softening a little bit more and more with each exhale.
Also notice if you’re leaning forward-not just physically, but energetically. Are you getting ahead of yourself? Are you striving and struggling to get to where you’re going? Try just leaning back and enjoying the ride. Soften your gaze just enough to feel as if your eyes are receptive. Allow the horizon to come to you, knowing you will get where you’re going.
There is no need to be a stressed out, agitated, or forceful driver. So, whether it is the morning commute or a minor errand, sit back. Relax, and enjoy the journey. Your destination is patiently waiting for you.
About the Author
Rebecca Clio Gould is a Certified Holistic Health Practitioner, Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, Qigong and Meditation Teacher, Sexual Awakening for Women Facilitator, and Author of “The Multi-Orgasmic Diet.” She’s on a mission to help women live healthier lives, step into their power, love themselves more, experience more joy, and live life to the fullest–emotionally, physically, and sexually. Rebecca is a graduate of the Heartwood Institute and the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. She has been running her own business, Elemental Harmony, PLLC since 2007 and lives in Seattle, Washington. See more at http://www.rebeccacliogould.com