Zoom Zoom. Commuting with mindfulness

Staying calm while commutingI talk a lot about moving, packing and all things home here. Today I want to take a little detour (hah, this pun you’ll get in a minute) and talk about the things we do to have these opportunities to have these homes and move to live in other locations. The jobs and careers that give us the opportunity for a paycheck, to travel and see how people live in different parts of the world, to move to new places. But in our quest for adventure and experience, there are so many monotonous and mundane everyday tasks we have to slug through. Let’s take one of the experiences and see how we can tolerate it better, find little moments of joy and manage the everyday stress better.

Commuting is a fact of life for most Americans. While it would be lovely to wake up and have your office just a five minute walk down the street with your favorite bakery and coffee shop in between, that’s basically not a reality. Commuting can be a walk to the subway, lightrail or bus stop, which I consider those to be the lucky ones being more passive in your commute, freeing up the time while somebody else drives that vehicle to your destination to  read a book, get started working or knit an afghan with your time instead of steering. For millions of other Americans, their mornings and evenings are full of driving a vehicle, often directly into the rising or setting sun. That is my reality, I drive into the rising sun in the morning and directly into the setting sun in the evening. Obviously the winter months are more intense since the days are so much shorter but I’m pretty much banking on future blindness from all these direct sunrays burning through my corneas.

Commuting is often synonymous with stress. It takes a yoga zen master to stay calm in never-ending bumper to bumper. So what can you do to help these bookending daily trips more pleasurable?

Audiobooks and Podcasts. Why not use your time to work your way through an interesting book? What about podcasts that can be eye-opening, make you laugh or bring new insight into your personal or professional growth. Find a podcast in your industry, educate yourself and start incorporating your new knowledge into your job, impress your boss with thoughtful  insights, get a promotion and finally achieve that corner office. Funny how you can take that time back in your control, even if you can’t directly open a book or newspaper because you’re steering.

Commuting with joyPlaylists. You know what’s a great stress reliever? Dancing. Dancing in your car amps you up for what’s to come, relieves stress, burns calories and spreads joy. If classical music is your jam, then do your thing Ms. Jackson! Do your thing to the fullest. If it’s Fleetwood Mac, crank that up and Go Your Own Way.

Commuting with intelligenceBreathing Meditation. Yes, you’re just a cog in the machine. You can’t make traffic open up, you can’t stop people from cutting you off. So why not let it go. Don’t get worked up because that stress and anxiety is not serving you.  If it makes you feel better, try the glass is half full approach. That guy who cut you off is late for an important meeting. Maybe the woman honking her horn spilled coffee and is frazzled today. Or, I don’t know, let’s be honest, maybe they’re just an asshole. Sorry for the language. But who they are doesn’t matter to you, they’ll be gone from your life in minutes. Let it go. Breathe through it. It’s not serving you. Move through it.

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