Live in the moment. This is arguably the simplest yet hardest advice to follow. You might ask yourself: when do most people have the chance to live in the moment? You may think that your career depends on always thinking ahead, and while that is likely to be partially true, it is crucial that you spend more of your life appreciating what is, rather than focusing constantly on what could be, will be or should be. Grounding yourself in the purpose of the moment and learning to manage your internal thoughts are timeless pieces of advice from various schools of psychotherapy and Zen Buddhism.
Some call it “living in the moment,” while others call it mindfulness. Regardless of what you want to call it, living in the moment means totally disrobing from the society-approved anxieties, constant commentary on life, judgment and general over-thinking. It means being unusually still with yourself, engaging with the uncomfortable task of disciplining your thoughts and taking a chance to truly relax. Like most of us, if you live a busy life and find it hard to reserve any time for reflective purposes, mediation or general self-care, then let me ask you: do you drive?
Your daily commute is a golden opportunity for you to be mindful, de-stress and refocus on what, where and who you are. Re-centering or “zenning out” is the biggest gift you can give to your soul, and capitalizing on commuting times to do so allows this practice at least twice a day. The benefits are phenomenal – lower blood pressure, less depression, less anxiety, more creative thinking and better self-esteem.
It can be a hard habit to get into, therefore it’s usually an easier transition around nature and calming sounds from the world around us. We are now in the summer storm season so next time you’re caught in one, open your window, breathe in nature’s gift of rain and let the atmosphere help take you to a place of peace.
Here are some special guidelines on how to maximize your potential for a pleasant commute, especially in adverse weather conditions, and turn a sometimes stressful or aggressive part of your day into your own personal spiritual journey.
- Before getting in the car take three deep breaths and imagine you are inhaling love and exhaling your stresses. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Think about how much of a connection you have to Earth, to the universe right now.
- Turn off any news or radio talk shows. Allow your mind the space to be silent without any uninvited voices or opinions or energies invading your peace. Your mind may wander briefly but you will soon fall into a comfortable and enlightened space with the silence, and this stillness sets the stage for your time re-centering. Many people enjoy relaxing music to help them focus on meditative exercises on the road.
- Let love be the driving force. Aggression and impatience can reach new heights on the road. Instead of being drawn into that, remind yourself that everyone has their own path and that everyone is a soul-searching for love. Wish every car that passes you, or even cuts you off, love and peace. Simply saying the words – even if you don’t initially mean it – is enough. “I wish you love and power and peace.” In a rain storm, listen to the raindrops and use them as a homing signal. Every time you feel yourself drifting from calmness let the rain wash away all fears and anger.
- Slow down. We are all in such a rush in every area of our life. Aside from the safety advantages of driving a bit slower, taking the speed down a notch will also encourage your thoughts to slow and become more mindful and spiritual. Even driving just under the speed limit and switching to a slower lane really takes the pressure off reaching your destination and moves it to just enjoying the ride — something we can take into our everyday lives.
It is increasingly important to remain mindful and live in the present as our lives become more complicated in a stranger world. If you don’t feel able to schedule in some meditation time outside of work, try these techniques on your next car journey – especially in a summer rain shower! You owe it to yourself.