The pandemic is (hopefully) slowly getting behind us and things are getting back to normal...and with it...the gruesome traffic jams. Don’t you just love the feeling of being stuck in a queue of cars on your way to work? And all those excruciating minutes of stepping on and off your brake pedal while precious time keeps ticking away?
Didn’t think so.
Learning how to control yourself in traffic is one of the most crucial things to learn in today’s world. Unfortunately, this is not something taught in school and there aren’t any courses which focus on solving this problem, but there definitely is something we can do. Try out these 3 meditation techniques to not freak out in traffic!
Although simple and automatic for all beings, inhales and exhales have the power to transform our lives on so many levels. From reducing stress levels and inflammation to helping us rationalize a difficult situation, controlling our breathing patterns has been the key since the early ages. Almost all ancient well-being techniques have some sort of breathing exercises as staples of their teachings. Due to the craziness of our environment and fast-paced lives we all lead, we seem to have forgotten how to breathe properly, as 90% of the time, we use shallow inhales and exhales that rarely every reach past the tip of our lungs.
Even though it’s hard to actually figure out how we’re breathing and where that oxygen is going, try to picture your body as an irregular balloon, like one of those inflatable animals. The way we’re breathing today, we’re only able to fill out her head or her torso, while her limbs or tail stay completely empty. By actively focusing on the depth and length of our breath, we can start filling out the smallest and hardest to reach areas of our body, bringing in fresh energy and an overall sense of relief.
How to implement breathing into your daily routine and learn how to deal with traffic?
Try this technique: Place one hand on your stomach and the other on your chest. First asses your situation and I’m almost certain you’ll only feel your upper hand rise - your belly breaths will be completely non-existent. Before doing anything else, try purposely breathing into your belly, feeling your hand move with each inhale and exhale. Once you’ve accomplished that, start with inhaling into your chest, feeling that hand rise, and then slowly bringing the inhale down towards your belly and feeling your lower hand rise. Exhale the other way around, feeling the air leave your belly and then your chest. You’ll be surprised by how much doing just this simple exercise will help.
If you want to take it a step further, start counting your inhales and exhales, first in a 1:1 ratio, slowly working your way to a 1:2 ratio, where your exhales will be twice as long than your inhales.
Focus on the Now
You’re in a traffic jam and you’re not moving anywhere anytime soon - instead of freaking out, embrace it! This might sound crazy, but let's face it, what else can you do? Turn on your favorite radio station or connect your Spotify and put on your favorite song, put on a podcast or audiobook you usually never have the time to listen to, meditate, think about what you can cook for dinner, if you're in a beautiful place, look around and take in the sights; you might notice details in your environment you've never seen before...Try to make the best out of the situation and use the time you have instead of wasting it. Once you've changed your mindset from freaking out to "Hey, I actually have this time for myself!" who knows, you might even enjoy sitting in your car a bit more than you need to.
The hardest one on the list, but once achieved, helps in so many different life situations. Accepting the fact that we can’t control everything is tough, as we always believe we can find a way out of the situation we’re in. When sitting behind rows and rows of cars, being patient is the last thing that comes to mind, as our anxiety and nervousness force us to go crazy and freak out. At that moment, nothing makes sense anymore and all possible thoughts start running through our heads, especially ones we haven’t yet had a chance to tackle, as we’re always running around.
Instead of stressing ourselves out, by taking a moment to catch a breath and do a couple of breath cycles as described above, we’re able to fully grasp the situation, understand there’s nothing left to do but wait, and use the time wisely. Taking it as a blessing rather than a curse, as we finally get a moment of peace and stillness, sitting in a traffic jam gives us the opportunity to sort out our brain and do a mental-check of our to-do list.
As today everything needs to be done this instant and tasks need to be completed yesterday, being stuck in traffic is a serious cause of anxiety as there are so many things we’d rather be doing than sitting there against our own will. Accepting the fact we can’t control everything in life is not something that can be achieved overnight, but by implementing these meditation techniques, we’ll react better and stress out less every time.