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Shifting Gears

Make your commute a spiritual practice.

By Mary Bolster

Stuck in traffic, sweating on the subway, sprinting for the bus—no matter how you get to work, a commute usually feels stressful. If you ever need a reminder of how hard it is to transfer the calm and serenity of yoga practice to everyday life, the rat race is it. We spoke to Kathleen Hall (www.drkathleenhall.com) about how you can learn to love your workday journey. The doctor of ministry is an expert on stress management and the author of Alter Your Life (Oak Haven, 2005).

CHANGE YOUR ATTITUDE Make your commute a spiritual practice, says Hall. Any annoyance—spilled coffee, people who cut you off, crowded buses—can become an opportunity to strengthen your practice.

TAKE YOUR TIME Lay out the things you'll need for your commute the night before and wake up a little earlier. You will feel very different if you can calmly walk to your car or to public transit instead of racing along in a panic.

TUNE IN There's a good reason every other person you see is plugged in to an iPod: Listening to music raises levels of serotonin, which in turn boosts mood. If you drive alone in a car, make the most of your isolation and sing out loud; that will elevate your spirits, too.

DIG DEEPER Download Deepak Chopra or Jon Kabat-Zinn or Jack Kornfield or any of your favorite spiritual guides and listen to them on the way to work. Keep a prayer shawl in your car and mala beads or a rosary close at hand and lightly touch or count the beads to bring you back to yourself. Think of your commute as your chapel or temple time, Hall suggests.

TURN INWARD If you're comfortable being alone, without the distractions of cell phones, books, radio, or conversation, try simply sitting and focusing on your breath or a mantra. Let your thoughts flow freely without following them. See if you can meditate for the length of your commute.

By the time you show up for work, you'll be filled with joy and peace (no, really) and ready to share it with coworkers.

Mary Bolster is the Executive Editor for Yoga Journal magazine.


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Karla Lehtonen

There is no warning in your article about not doing the type of spiritual practices that could take your concentration off the road when driving.

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