From Madness to Mindfulness (in traffic)

By Rippan Sandhu

Sitting in traffic is something we all have to do; whether your on your way to an appointment, doing the school run or to and from work. It can seem like a frustrating waste of your busy day. But what if it doesn’t have to be?

Rather than checking emails at the lights or scribbling your to-do list, what if you used your daily commute to train your mind?

By practicing mindfulness you can develop and focus your mind to create calm and relaxation, arriving at your destination refreshed and ready to take on the day, or returning home with a feeling of wellbeing, of happiness.

Rush hour is a powerful opportunity to form new habits, try these three exercises below over the next 7 days and you’ll soon feel the benefits of:

Being more focused and able to concentrate for longer
Experience greater clarity in your thinking and decision making
Approach day to day life with a better state of balance, able to go with the flow when a situation cannot be changed.

When you've got 1 minute
Place your hand just beneath your navel so you can feel the gentle rise and fall of your belly as you breathe. Breathe in. Pause for a count of three. Breathe out. Pause for a count of three. Continue to breathe deeply for one minute, pausing for a count of three after each inhalation and exhalation.

Or alternatively, while sitting comfortably, take a few slow deep breaths and quietly repeat to yourself "I am" as you breathe in and "at peace" as you breathe out. Repeat slowly two or three times. Then feel your entire body relax into the support of your chair.

When you've got 2 minutes
Count down slowly from 10 to 0. With each number, take one complete breath, inhaling and exhaling. For example, breathe in deeply, saying "10" to yourself. Breathe out slowly. On your next breath, say "nine", and so on. If you feel lightheaded, count down more slowly to space your breaths further apart. When you reach zero, you should feel more relaxed. If not, go through the exercise again.

When you've got 3 minutes
Relax your facial muscles and allow your jaw to open slightly. Let your shoulders drop. Let your arms fall to your sides. Allow your hands to loosen so there are spaces between your fingers. Uncross your legs or ankles. Feel your thighs sink into your chair, letting your legs fall comfortably apart. Feel your shins and calves become heavier and your feet grow roots into the floor. Now breathe in slowly and breathe out slowly.

Tip: While learning these exercises it may help to record them on your phone, slowly and clearly. Then simply play the recording every time you have 1, 2 or 3 minutes (at the lights, traffic not moving, waiting at an intersection or roundabout), the more you practise these simple exercises the easier they’ll become and the quicker you’ll start to notice change. If you have the kids in the car with you get them to do the exercises with you, what a fantastic way to bring mindfulness into their lives.

Let’s make drive time a productive time!

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