When I moved to the South Shore of Massachusetts with my husband 3 years ago, I knew I was signing up for years and years of a daily commute that would take me at least an hour each way on a good day. In an effort to save my sanity (and everyone else’s for that matter) I opted to ride the commuter rail into the heart of Boston each day. It’s just a 10 minute drive, a 45 minute train ride and another 10 minute walk.
Not too bad, right?
As a brand new graduate with my first big-girl job I didn’t realize how valuable this down time would become. Though I was stoked about the new job with new responsibilities and my own eager willingness to take on ambiguous and challenging projects, evitably life became more and more busy with competing priorities, deadlines and obligations. I became overworked, overtired and totally overwhelmed. Eventually the Adulting Fairy struck and by confiding in my of my friends of similar age and even my parents, I learned this feeling is apparently totally normal, or at least until you develop proper coping mechanisms.
Everyone talks about work-life balance but it can be difficult to know where to start. I started with daily meditations on the train to start the process of pointing my heart, my mind and my soul in the direction of acceptance and self tolerance.
My Daily 5 minute Commuter Meditation
Sit up in your seat with your feet planted flatly on the floor and your hands gently resting in your lap. Sitting in a supported position allows you to breathe deeply without exherting a large amount of effort so you can get the full benefit of the 5 minute session.
Gently close your eyes and center your focus on your breath.
Begin my taking a deep breath in to the count of 4 and releasing the air through your mouth to a count of 4. Repeat this two more times to quiet the mind and any circulating thoughts. On the fourth inhale, pause at the top of the breath for a count of four before releasing the breath through your mouth. Maintaining an even count on your inhales and exhales, come into a slow steady breath. In your mind gently repeat the words “breathe” with each inhale and “peace” with each exhale. Gently scan the body from the top of your head to your toes gently releasing any areas of tension. It’s ok to dwell a little longer on any areas that you feel may need a bit more love and attention.
Once you reach your toes, bring to mind one positive thing you are thankful for. This may be a person you care deeply for, an event you may be looking forward to or simply that you’ve taken this time for yourself.
To close this practice, complete one more deep inhale and exhale each to the count of four. Gently open your eyes, smile and enjoy the rest of your day.
Tip: If you have difficulty detaching from your environment, try putting in headphones with calming music. I find music without lyrics works for me but do what feels best for you. With practice, quieting the chatter in your mind and tuning out of the noise around you will come easier and easier. Stick with it!