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Zen on the bus # 2: how to get to work feeling fresh, relaxed and up-beat.

Zen On The Bus # 2: How To Get To Work Feeling Fresh, Relaxed And Up-beat.

You can use your time commuting on public transport to go Zen for a while and arrive at work energized, fresh, focused and feeling great.  By going Zen, I mean diving into the present moment, so you can experience your journey in a new and refreshing way.

Time spent commuting actually represents a wonderful opportunity. 

Commuting represents a chunk of time in which you do not have to be anywhere else doing stuff.  You just have to sit there and commute with no other demands on your time.  And if you add it up, it is actually a fair chunk of time.  If you commute for 1 hour per day, 5 days a week for 42 weeks a year it ends up being the equivalent of 26, 8-hour days. That is a lot of time.

Imagine the following conversation between yourself and another person (OP)

OP:        Would you like to seriously improve the quality of your life and general sense of wellbeing.

You:       Sure, but how?

OP:        By learning to 1) experience the world in a new and empowering way 2) greatly reduce stress and worry 3) generally tap into a wealth of inner resources that you may not have utilized before.

You        OK fine, but it sounds like that would take a whole bunch of time and cost a lot of money and I probably wouldn’t have the patience anyway

OP          Look, all you have to do is commit to a 30 day program learning some really cool stuff and it will only cost $4000

You        It isn’t going to happen

And that would be most people’s answer. 

It is a large chunk of time and a lot of money (which is what a lot of self-help gurus charge to learn the new wonder technique that is guaranteed to change your life). 


As pointed out above, commuting represents a large chunk of time – right?.  There is also a range of simple and engaging exercises you can do whilst commuting that won’t cost a cent but will have a big impact on your sense of wellbeing and happiness. 

What is more,

It has been scientifically proven that learning done in short repetitive chunks is more effective than the same learning crammed in to one big chunk.

This is the 2nd in the Zen-on-the-bus series that will describe simple easy to do mental exercises and contemplations that can be done whilst commuting.  If you do them consistently then they will have a profound impact on your  sense of well-being and happiness. 

Most of the exercises are designed to divert your awareness away from the clutches of your thinking-mind and into the present moment. 

When you learn to experience the present moment in all its richness then a certain type of magic happens that is truly magnificent. 

Now some factoids about your sense of smell

As we were evolving the ability to detect and distinguish between different chemicals was the first sense to to emerge and as such is the most primal in our suite of 5. 

In a world where our sensory awareness is mostly captured by sights and sounds we have downgraded the importance of our other senses – particularly smell – to the point we are only aware of the “lesser” senses when they are strongly stimulated.

Thus, we miss out on experiencing the world as fully as we could. 

Imagine what it would be like to be a dog whose sense of smell is 1,000 – 10,000 more acute than our own.  They get to walk through an odour-scape just as spectacular and varied as what we see with our eyes.  No wonder they are so excited to to the park. 

While our sense of smell may not be all that developed, we still have one and could enjoy it a lot more than we do. We can still experience an interesting and varied odor-scape.  It is just a matter of where we choose to place our awareness.

So, here is the exercise; it is simple

Just place all your awareness on your sense of smell.  If you are commuting on public transport close your eyes and reduce the awareness you to your sense of hearing.  That is, don’t plug into any electronic sound and mentally fade out any background sounds (we do this all the time without even knowing ).  Just focus on smell.


Breathe a little more deeply and become aware of the odours around you.

Don’t judge what you smell as good or bad, just experience.

See if you can detect the underlying smell of the city; identify the dominant smell of the air that your vehicle is moving through.

What is the intrinsic smell of the vehicle you are travelling in? 

Become aware of distinct strands of smell as they come and go with the movement of people around you.  

Can you differentiate between the odour signatures of individual commuters? 

Attempt to distinguish between natural body odours and synthetic ones such as soaps, shampoos, moisturizing creams, perfumes and “deodorants”? 

In a crowded bus there are a multitude of distinct smell stands to experience.

Dive fully into this experience. As thoughts arise acknowledge them by say to your self “thinking” and then return to the smell-scape.

Towards the end of the journey reflect on your mind-state and the impact that this exercise had on it.

You may consider spending the whole day with a focus on your sense of smell.  You will find the effect of this exercise goes way beyond just smelling odours. 

Enjoy and share the love.

Go have and awesome day!
Post Series: Zen on the bus
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