Photo Credit Why Kei | unsplash.com
Metro Manila is one of the cities with the most congested streets. More and more people buy cars while the Government infrastructure programs are not progressing as fast.
A lot of Filipinos have resigned to the fact that going to and from work or school is a challenge, due to the traffic situation. We obviously cannot do something about this as this is beyond our control. But, what we can manage is our own mind.
Having a daily meditation and mindfulness practice does help manage the stress that exists in our own mind. Experienced meditators say, no matter what is happening outside, if you are calm in the inside then you can manage an unwanted circumstance. The tranquility of the inner environment is key. During traffic jam, and you are running late for an appointment, what happens in the mind? It continuously runs this scenario again and again making you worry and anxious. Your breathing starts to become shallow. Hence your heart and lungs will have to work more. All this creates more anxiety or even anger.
Now, try applying a mindfulness practice and see if it can help alleviate that.
First bring your attention to your breath. Really focus on your breathing. Work on lengthening the breath. Long deep breathing on a physical level helps relax and slow down the lungs and heart. This in turn helps also calm the mind.
Secondly you need to keep your attention on the breathing. Your mind will jump back at the traffic scenario. It may even jump to other unrelated things, even negative thoughts, for example if you had a bad meeting at work. Of course this will fuel your frustration further. So mindfulness on the breath is important, as the mind tends to wander off each second. Keep moving your attention back to the breath.
When your breathing is long and smooth, now bring attention to your surrounding. Feel your body sitting on the comfort of the car seat. Maybe you are playing a nice tune and enjoy the music. Enjoy the coolness the air conditioner is providing you. It does provide a relaxed journey.
While sitting there in traffic, what could also help is focusing on gratitude. Be grateful you are inside a comfortable car while other people are struggling to get a ride home.
So next time you find yourself stuck in traffic, train your mind to focus on the techniques above. It is a more productive use of your brain energy instead of continuously complaining about the traffic situation.
It may or may not work in the beginning but one thing is for sure, continuous practice will help you improve. Learn to be actively calm even during challenging times. Use that traffic problem as your training to being peaceful and mindful.
A wonderful bonus is when you finally reach home, you share more of yourself and less of your frustration and anger.
May your breath and attention sustain your inner peace.
Neil Salang started with meditation as his yoga practice back in the early 1990’s. He is a Kriya Yogi and a devotee of the Self Realization Fellowship Ashram established by his guru Sri Paramahansa Yogananda, (author of “Autobiography of a Yogi” www.yognanda-srf.org). He is one of the founders and directors of Manila Meditation Circle Philippines SRF. He also has 17 years experience working as a sales executive in different corporations. He is the sales and business development consultant of Yoga Plus. He currently teaches ashtanga, vinyasa flow and meditation.