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Zen on the bus # 1: how to get to work feeling fresh, relaxed and ready to kick ass.

Zen On The Bus # 1: How To Get To Work Feeling Fresh, Relaxed And Ready To Kick Ass.

If you commute to work you have a wonderful opportunity to do things that will make you feel awesome so you get to where your going feeling relaxed, present and inspired.

If you commute to work think about the time you have available to you in which you don’t have to be doing stuff; you just have to sit there for the duration. 


26 days just commuting

Say you commute to work for 42 weeks of the year, ½ an hour each way.  That makes roughly 210 hours per year, or 26 eight-hour days that are available to you to do cool stuff that could impact the quality of your life.

How do you use all that time commuting to work

Of course, you could do what most people do, plug into your mobile and read the news or a blog or zone out with music or watch an entertaining you-tuber or get an early start on your e-mails.  Sure some of that is useful or a nice escape but does it really have a positive impact on your day and your life in general.  Does it help you start your day with a sense of wonder or joy or happiness?  If you are reading the news or work e-mails almost definitely not.

Here is one possible scenario

You get on the bus and start reading your work e-mails.  There is one from your boss being critical of your work, you start to stress about it, your brain starts going at 100miles an hour obsessing about what you think your boss thinks of you and if she will give you a promotion this year, you start depressing about money issues, you wish you could tell your boss to shove her job but you feel locked in and trapped because you have a mortgage – you start depressing because you feel you are like a hamster on a wheel, you get to work in a negative and depressed mind-state, you respond inappropriately to her e-mail, she gets angry and shouts at you, your day just goes from bad to worse.

Here is another scenario

You do the following exercise, or any of the exercised from this Zen-on-the-bus series, you feel a deep sense of calm, you smile, the smile releases feel good chemicals into your neurology, you feel good, you have a heightened sense of well-being, you focus on beauty as you commute (congruent with your mind state), you smile more, more happy chemicals, your feel good, you arrive at work calm, focused and energized and with a smile on your face, you greet your boss in a warm and upbeat way, she feels good about the interaction, a few moments later she calls you into her office and apologises that she could have written that critical e-mail in a more sensitive way, you feel empathetic with her due to her huge workload, you understand how she could write an e-mail like that and don’t stress about it, she thanks you for being understanding, you offer to take some of her workload, she starts feeling good about your promotion … the day goes from strength to strength.

In this blogs series I am going to suggest a variety of things you can do while you commute that will leave your feeling awesome …. Starting with the following exercise.

But first some factoids about how you see

Did you know we spend most of our time doing tunnel vision?

At the back of our eyes we have the retina which has two types of receptor cells that allow us to see, rod cells and cone cells; rod cells are unable to distinguish colour and are distributed at the periphery of the retina, while cone cells are concentrated mostly in the centre of the retina, the fovea. 

The fovea allows us to sharply focus on details and see colours while the peripheral vision sees shapes and movement without the detail. For example, you read using your fovea whilst you would only register the letters as a jumble of shapes with your peripheral vision. 

Most of the time our awareness is captured by the fovea as we focus on TV and computer screens, read stuff, talk to people and generally go about our day.

Bottom line?

We literally spend most of our time doing tunnel vision.

How we see influences our inner state

Now here is where it gets interesting.  

Our central vision is associated with the sympathetic nervous system,which is responsible for gearing up our body for fight or flight. It makes sense, we want to be able to focus on the threat. 

By contrast, when we place our awareness on our peripheral vision it activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which facilitates the rest-and-digest or feed-and-breed activities.

To put it another way,

Our peripheral vision can calm us down.  

What is more

Our stress-producing thinking-mind is more active when our awareness is focused on the central vision. By contrast the peripheral vision stimulates more reflective, meditative states. 

Do you see where I am going with this.  

You can use your peripheral vision to shut down obsessive thinking and do more resourceful reflective states in which you will have access to a greater array of inner resources.

Zen on the bus, exercise 1: relaxed mind-state with peripheral vision

You could read each step and do them progressively – step by step.  Or you could listen to the audio and I will walk you through it.

  1. As you sit there, experiment with transferring your awareness between the central focused vision and the peripheral vision. To do this focus on a spot a few meters away from you – something that is staying constant.  Notice the detail. Now soften your focus and without moving your eyes become aware of peripheral objects in a cone around the focal point.  Switch back and forward between focussed and peripheral vision until you are clear about the difference.  Get a feel for the width of the central focus zone; the border between the central and peripheral vision.
  2. Now shift your awareness to your peripheral vision and spend more time exploring. Remember to keep your focus soft and just notice stuff without getting caught up in judgements or thought-trains about what you see. Notice how the periphery is not just made up of what is immediately to your left and right but also what is above and below the focal point; a broad circle.
  3. Experiment with becoming aware of shapes further and further out on the periphery.
  4. See how long you can remain in the periphery without unconsciously being drawn back to your central vision –it is likely that your thinking mind will seek to re-assert its dominance and thus draw you back to central vision where it feels more “comfortable”.
  5. As you remain in the periphery take note of the quality of your thoughts and mental activity – note any differences with activity that occurs when your awareness is on the center.
  6. Now become aware of your breathing, let it become a little deeper. Note any changes that your breathing makes to the quality of your mental activity.
  7. Now become aware of your posture and sensations in your body as you remain in the periphery
  8. A few minutes out from your destination come back to the central vision and note any changes in your mental activity, breathing and bodily sensations.
  9. Smile.

During your day you may like to be more aware than normal of your periphery and note any changes

if you think a friend would find this useful share the love.

Have and awesome day.

Post Series: Zen on the bus
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