It’s a rare person in recovery who cannot recall a time when stress—sobriety’s silent saboteur— put them in danger. A recent Yale University study even suggests that a person’s biological tendency toward stress can be measured as a tool to reduce relapse statistics since there is a notable connection.
Stress is everywhere in today’s world. Maybe you lost your debit card. Your cell phone starts going on the fritz. Work deadlines come sooner than you realized. Even forgetting an umbrella during rainy weather can be a factor in a stressful day.
Another high source of stress these days are long commutes to and from work. According to the United States Census Bureau, in 2009 commuters made up roughly 20 percent of all travel. Due to recent rising gas prices, media outlets nationwide are reporting an uptick in workers utilizing public transportation to offset costs.
So, how do you deal with daily annoyances while taking advantage of public transit? Well + Good NYC spoke with Shambhala senior teacher David Nichtern, who has made a career of positive thinking, meditation and mindfulness, for advice to relax during your commute.
One main message Nichtern emphasizes is that it's not about tuning out the stressors, since spiritual practice isn’t simply a tranquilizer. “I’m not from the school of ‘Let’s just chant something.’ My school is awareness. The more aware you are, the more likely you’re headed to a positive outcome,” he says.
Well + Good poses the question: What’s the best way to channel your energy toward something positive, as opposed to stressing out during public transit?
Nichtern says it’s all about your attitude.
“Energy is neutral, and we tip it toward a negative or positive outcome with our attitudes. Each individual has to create their own positive environment by being mindful and aware.”
But what if you struggle with your environment? Soothing distractions are aplenty in our digital world. Audiobooks and podcasts can spin a positive spin on your environment. Nichtern provides podcast and other distraction options on his Facebook page. He also leads a video chat every Tuesday night via Ustream on Facebook, where he discusses meditation and the modern world.
Click here to read more commute advice from David Nichtern.