[su_dropcap style=”default” size=”3″ class=””]I[/su_dropcap]t’s 8 a.m. on a Monday. The subway is crowded, you forgot to grab breakfast, and the person next to you is clearly invading your personal space. You’re two seconds away from giving this person a piece of your mind when suddenly, you pause. Instead of unleashing your raging thoughts, you silently wish well to the personal space invader.
What would make one change his or her thoughts in such a positive way? Meditation. According to The New York Times, this particular type of meditation is known as metta, or the practice of loving-kindness, and it can be as simple as wishing well to all those around you. Commutes can be stressful, but meditation can help.
If metta meditation seems a bit silly to you at first, mindfulness meditation is another easy way to ease mental tension, and it can be done anywhere at any time. The point of mindfulness is not to empty the mind, but rather to bring attention to everything that is happening in the present moment. Be mindful of your breath, your thoughts, your emotions and your sensations. If you are new to mindfulness meditation or need help focusing, listening to guided meditations is a good place to start. David Gelles, a New York Times reporter, offers four, free guided meditations in his guide to meditation.
Now, you may be wondering, is meditating during my commute really going to benefit me? If we consider the damaging effects of a long commute, then it will be easier to understand the benefits of meditation.
A 2015 article in Psychology Today cites several studies that prove commuting can kill one’s happiness. One study concluded that those with the longest commutes have the lowest overall satisfaction with life, while another study stressed the mental and physical health problems associated with commuting. These problems include decreased energy, increased stress and higher susceptibility to illness. A change in attitude, however, can help combat these problems; changing one’s attitude can be done through meditation.
So, the next time you find yourself struggling to get through your commute or resisting the urge to unleash raging thoughts on an innocent bystander, consider practicing meditation. Bring attention to the present moment and don’t let your commute control your happiness.