According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average American’s commute to work is 26 minutes, which is 20 percent longer than in 1980. If you calculate that round trip weekly, you are spending, on average, 4.3 hours commuting. Many who live in big cities would consider a 26-minute commute to be a blessing. Cities like New York and Washington, D.C. see average commute times of 34 and 32 minutes respectively.
Instead of viewing your long commute times as time wasted, win back that notion of time well spent on your daily commute by embracing these five principles.
An effective way to spend your commute is to listen to audiobooks. If you’re constantly on-the-go, and don’t have time to read, listening to an audiobook while driving is a great way to learn about a new topic, enjoy history lessons, escape into a novel, or study for tests on your way to earning a degree. The sky is the limit.
Get excited to learn by setting a goal for yourself. Set the intention to listen to twelve books in twelve months or to learn a new skill such as speaking Spanish. If your commute is the average 4.3 hours weekly, then you’ll have around 220 hours of learning a year. You could at least get to level two or three of a new language in that time.
Whether you are driving, flying, taking a bus, or riding a train, you can meditate all the time and every time. Meditation is a wonderful way to connect you to a more organized way of thinking as your brainwaves synchronize. If you don’t have time to meditate, your daily commute is a great time to integrate this practice into your life.
If you are riding to work, you can do a silent meditation with your eyes closed. Rest assured, you will be safe. Secure your bags around your shoulders and on your lap and get comfortable in your seat. Your sense of intuition is heightened when you meditate, so you will sense if you’re not in a safe space or if someone with poor intentions is approaching you.
If you are driving, you can practice mindful driving, where you turn off the radio and tune into all of the details of driving, observing things you pass along the way, your breath, and how it feels to be in motion.
Practice Mindfulness Observation
It’s common to go through daily activities with your brain on autopilot. When you’re commuting, you’re usually thinking about other things, talking on the phone, emailing and texting, gulping down your morning coffee, or all of the above. Instead, try to observe your surroundings as a present moment mindfulness exercise.
In today’s world, it takes real effort to be present. Put away your electronic devices, shut off any distractions, and truly observe everything around you. Watch people and how they act and interact. Look at little things in the environment that you may have never noticed before. Take a different way to work if you can, and notice the cute neighborhoods or shopping centers you haven’t yet discovered. There is so much in this big, beautiful world to see and it’s too easy to get used to what is familiar. Expand your world view by observing it.
Repeat Your Daily Affirmations
Affirmations are a great way to redirect your thoughts into a more positive internal dialogue. Whether you realize it or not, your mind has the tendency to veer more toward negative thinking if you’re not careful. Your ego is constantly finding ways to wreak havoc on your thoughts. One of the ways to correct this form of self-sabotage is to train the mind to think more positive thoughts. Repeating daily affirmations is an exercise that will swing the pendulum the other way.
Make a list of affirmations such as, “I am strong. I am healthy.” Or “Wealth is coming to me now.” After you make your list, record yourself reading your list and save it as an MP3 file that you can have with you at all times. Listen to your affirmations during your morning and evening commute. Pretty soon, you’ll have your affirmations in your head even when you aren’t actively listening to them. Your negative self-dialogue will be effectively replaced with all of the positive statements you have created.
Practice Prayer and Gratitude
Just as time for meditation is sometimes difficult to find in the day, many find it challenging to find time for prayer and thankfulness. While you can practice both of these things throughout the day, you can make it an intentional practice to integrate them during your commute.
If you find you have a negative mindset and attitude about your commute and your work, one helpful way through it is through prayer and gratitude. Through the law of attraction, if you complain and remain angry about your situation, you will attract more of it. However, if you find reasons to be grateful for your present situation, you are telling the universe to send you more reasons to be grateful. The harder this is for you, the more you need to do it. Look at it as the universe’s lessons for you.
Once you begin practicing these five principles, you’ll soon find that you can’t wait for your commute. You’ll begin to feel joy about it every day as you will hold the secrets to happiness and success.
Learn Primordial Sound Meditation from Deepak Chopra and Chopra Center master educators – anytime, anywhere – with our Primordial Sound Meditation Online Course. Learn More.