Meditating is the medicine for stress when travelling on crowded public transport. This may may seem weird at first but it’s an antidote to tension on the tube and other forms of public transport. No one even needs to know that you are meditating and it’s an inner blooming practice.
I’ve had the pleasure of travelling on public transport in the rush hour recently and have noticed tense, miserable faces on my journey as well as anger and aggression. It’s like people are sleep walking unconsciously during their journey.
I saw a man bump into a woman so forcefully that she almost fell over and he just continued without batting an eyelid. The overcrowded trains and high fares seem to have become a licence for what I’m calling bad behaviour (this is a judgement, of course). People who are normally polite and friendly push, shove and swear at each other.
Meditating and mindfulness are remedies for this behaviour. They are medicine for the soul. While you’re travelling you arrive at your destination relaxed and calm. And no amount of angst from other people disturbs your equanimity.
My rush hour journey across London involves a 10-minute walk to get the bus, 15-20 minutes on the Victoria Line tube, 40 minutes on the Jubilee Line tube and a 15-minute walk to my destination. I arrive feeling good – calm and ready to start the day with enthusiasm and verve and with my inner space blooming.
Here are 4 simple exercises that I apply that work and that you can try, too…
Journey into the breath – on the bus/train, whether seated or standing, I journey into my breath. I close my eyes and for 3-5 breaths each, I focus my attention just inside my nostrils, in the nasal passages, at the throat, at the chest where the lungs are and finally listening to the sound of the breath. Meditating like this keeps your mind present in the moment.
On the Victoria Line, whether seated or not, I close my eyes and watch my breath. This time focusing on the space between each breath. After a while my mind becomes even quieter and I switch to listening to the rattly sounds of the tube as it travels from stop to stop, to the announcements, people entering and exiting.
One day, I opened my eyes as people squashed into the carriage at Victoria underground station and saw a lady, whose face was only a few inches from mine, giving me a rather bemused looked. She looked stressed and irritated, I was relaxed and calm inside. I closed my eyes and continued meditating.
Next, it’s the Jubilee Line segment of my journey. If I have notes to review, I’ll spend 30 minutes glancing through them and the last 10 minutes being mindful. I like to listen to the sounds . The clackety clack, chugging, metal rattlely, clanging and rumbling sounds. The hissing and screeching of the brakes as the train slows to a stop at the stations on the overground part of the journey. Interestingly, the sound changes quite a lot and is very different from those on the Victoria Line.
Mindfulness is being aware of what is happening moment to moment without judgement. You do not need special surroundings for meditating or be mindful. You can build these practices into your every day life.
Finally, the 15 minutes walk is used to set my outcome for the day using a process devised by Caitlin Walker called Clean Setup. It consists of 3 parts:
Setting my desired outcome for the day – I ask myself “For this day/ project/ meeting/ door knocking/…/ to be just as I would like it to be it needs to be like
On a grey, overcast day, I may want a sunshiny day. The sunshiny is in my body all over. It’s glowing yellow and creating warm energy that’s constantly circulating. And the sunshiny spreads out and supports everyone…
Next, I ask “for the day to be sunshiny like above, I need to be like what?”
I need to be centred, grounded and calm. I’m grounded like a tree and full of energy and excitement. The energy is fuelled by the glowing sunshiny warmth in my stomach. I am focused and attentive. The focus is in my head, at the front and it’s like (wait for it!) sun rays beaming onto whatever I need to pay attention to…
Finally, “For the sunshiny day (part 1) and me to be grounded, calm and sun rays to happen (part 2) what support or resources will I need?”
Typically I want to make sure I stay hydrated so I need to drink regularly. I will need my laptop, phone, comfortable shoes (if door knocking for example). I will required support from colleagues, fun and laughter and my spirit guides to keep us all safe and cooperative…
At this point I am at my destination, I am relaxed, I’ve set my state for the day…centred, calm, grounded etc. I know the help/resources that I will require and I am feeling good with my energy vibrating at a high level.
Just to reiterate, you do not need to be in a special space to be mindful or to meditate. You are in charge of yourself and so you can freely decide what state you want to maintain irrespective of what is happening around you.
If you’d like to go deeper into meditation and mindfulness join me for my weekend yoga retreat to Ireland in July. Please go here for more information.