Big city: packed trains! For many, nothing is more stressful and exhausting than taking public transport to work. In a city like Tokyo, it’s not uncommon to travel more than an hour to get to your destination: An hour on a “jammed-packed” train, where you don’t have to worry about falling over when the train rocks because everyone else is holding you up! At times, you have to use all your strength to prevent yourself falling over the seated passenger in front of you. Other times, it can be really difficult to just breath. After an hour, you grasp for fresh air, pick yourself up and walk to your office building only to find when you get there, you need to join the long line of people using the elevators to get to their floor. You squeeze-in, face the front and watch the numbers. Finally, you get to your office and you feel like you’ve run a 20-kilometer marathon: possibly bruised, and needing an emergency rest. Except for one thing: you need to start working!
Yet, as far as mindfulness is concerned, this is the opportunity of a life-time! A Zen Master once said to me, “Obstacles do not block the path: they are the path!” As a teacher, I could never create this type of “extreme” scenario in the classroom and the realization that the train ride is the ultimate place to REALLY LEARN! It is in extreme situations where you can learn to move from stress, to skillfulness, to mastery, by practicing a few short steps.
STEP ONE: Treat it as a GIFT of Learning
Where before you were preparing to be pushed, squashed, stepped-on, hot, sticky, smelly, whatever… now prepare to be the student of the greatest learning. This is the chance to acknowledge that you will be in the best possible learning environment to learn how to manage stress. In fact, you will be in an AMAZING environment! Uniquely all yours - all created for your learning. And guess what, you will have this for free - every morning and evening. Treat it as a gift. When someone gives us a gift, we do not normally say, “no thank you”; or “I already have this gift”; or “I don’t like your silly gift”. When someone gives us a gift, we say, “thank you”! Acknowledge this wonderful gift: FEEL this wonderful gift as if you just won a major lottery. Feel the excitement and with this mindset, you are ready to catch a train and the chance to be a master of your emotions.
STEP TWO: Whether standing-up or sitting down, learn to be the mountain.
A mountain is a great observer. When we stand on top of a mountain, we can feel the clouds passing through us. We might become a little wet from the humidity, but that too passes. The mountain can sit still, without anxiety, without fear, or without worry. It knows that through summer, spring, autumn or winter it will survive. It knows that clouds come and go. It experiences rain and sunshine. It simply sits and experiences whilst watching it all. Therefore, we too must be ready like the mountain.
We can be the master observer of all things. We can be the ‘watcher’. We may be standing and people may step on our feet. We used to experience “anger”, “pain”, “annoyance”. Except in this lesson, we do not label our thoughts because when we do, we are conditioned to react a certain way. When we label our thoughts, we attach ourselves to them. When we attach ourselves to them, we tell the body that it should start to react. When it reacts, it’s going to produce more of the stress hormone called cortisol and cortisol does more harm than good - especially when you’re going to be in the train for an hour.
Return to the mountain….as the mountain does not attach itself to the cloud, you too do not allow your brain to attach to the emotion by letting it label it. So someone stepped on my toe - it is neither “bad” nor “good”. It just is. I might be experiencing pain…. and that too, will pass, just like the cloud. Experiencing something is not putting a label on it… it is just acknowledging a certain state. In doing this, you will prevent stress hormones from being released in your body. If you label it as “bad”, then stress builds-up. You might look at that person and start to blame them. You might look at the situation and start to blame your stressful job, or life! You might even somehow find a perfect excuse to blame someone or something that is not even there! The fact is, everyone in that train is experiencing what you experience. The trick is to be the mountain and prevent your brain from labeling anything as “good” or “bad”.
STEP THREE: Remove distractions - return to your breathing
This means put your phone away. Instead of scrolling through social media, or playing games, or reading messages and emails, why don’t we take advantage of our LIVE training environment in a much more efficient way that is restful and healing. This is where mindfulness can be practiced and you can eventually become the master of your stress. This is where the magic really happens.
If you are lucky enough to sit-down, then take advantage of the seat and sit up-right. Now we can return our focus to our breathing. When we do this, we start to become aware to what is within us and what is around us. We start to allow kindness and gentleness enter our life because we realize that everyone in the train is experiencing this moment and we recognize that everyone else can feel, what I feel. In this sense, we feel compassion for others.
If you are lucky enough to stand-up, we tend to see more of our environment and thus, we can acknowledge others more, and see more. Returning to our breathing, we allow kindness and gentleness to enter the current moment. We give ourselves permission to be compassionate.
This type of meditation is very healing because it allows us to be like the mountain. We can just be in whatever situation, and realize what is inside us - whether it’s anger, frustration, irritation, pain, or it could be joy, peace, love. We are with whatever is there without the attachment. We watch and acknowledge it as if it is sitting or standing next to us. The clouds come, they sometimes stay, then eventually go. There is no need to push it away. There is no need to pretend you are experiencing anything else. It is as if it is a friend that you are watching beside you. We can accept it with love and still be free and calm despite all the things we might be experiencing.
Focus on your breathing. Follow your breathing. You can feel your in-breath as it tickles the inside of your nose. You can focus on the in-breath by acknowledging that you are breathing in. When you breath-out, your can feel your out-breath as it caresses your lips. You can acknowledge it by saying you are breathing out. You don’t need to control your breath. Just feel it as it is. With each in-breath, you can remind yourself that you are aware of your body. With each out-breath, you can release the tension in your body.
If at any point your legs begin to fall asleep or hurt, try adjusting your position and balance a little (if you’re standing). You can quietly do this whilst continuing to be mindful of your breathing; continuing to be the watchful mountain.
You can practice this technique on any commute. Start short and extend your sessions as you improve.
After many years of practicing in this LIVE training environment, I now feel ‘lighter’ and I have more energy when I arrive at work. Where I used to be claustrophobic, I am now calm and accepting. Should someone step on my foot, or push me out of the way, my reaction is not one of anger: it has become one of understanding, to the point where I can close my eyes and wish them wellness, peace and happiness.
TIP: Use the 852 Hz Frequency
The 852 Hz Frequency has been associated with Awaken intuition and can be used to open-up communication with your higher self.
Once you are comfortable with commuting meditation, I recommend you listen to (not watch) 852 Hz music whilst meditating. There is a sample of one, here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KCW1xbXPRDY
I really do hope you enjoy your commute in the future!