Traveling to conferences can be very stressful. Travel often means delayed flights, long queues and traffic jams. And then there’s your thoughts about the whole thing. Maybe the biggest stressor of all. Will I make it on time, what will they think of my presentation, what if this and what about that. And for some the anxiety about flying or socializing on conferences and meetings may be a stressor. So how can you stay calm and grounded in the present moment when on the move?
My team and I have been researching and we have put together some tips for staying mindful while traveling.
"One of the things people often say mindfulness helps them with is being comfortable when they are uncomfortable. Rather than being very distressed you're more able to see the best in the situation, to step out of the difficult thought patterns. Practicing mindfulness allows long queues, long-haul flights to be manageable”. - Jamie Bristow
This is because Mindfulness is a practice that cultivates our attention and helps us stay in the present moment with non-judgemental awareness . It strengthens our focus, enables us to turn down outside noise and internal chatter and helps us being more compassionate towards ourselves and others. This practice helps us with clarity and prevents stress and anxiety.
Focus on your breath
The easiest and most efficient mindfulness technique when traveling, in my opinion, is breathing. The breath is always with us. Tune into your breath. Inhale to allow your lungs to fill completely, briefly pause at the top, and exhale fully, pausing before your next breath begins. Notice the qualities, textures and sensations of your breath as air moves in and out through your nose. Breathing all the way down to your stomach and not only in your chest as we tend to do when we are stressed will help you feel calm and grounded.
According to Buddhify app creator Rohan Gunatillake practicing mindfulness whilst traveling is key because "few of us have the luxury of lots of quiet and calm time for formal sitting meditation but since many of us spend so much time traveling a few minutes meditating while traveling can be just as valuable as the same amount of time in more traditional meditation." Therein lies the appeal of meditating while traveling: rendering the unavoidable process of getting from A to B an easier, more enjoyable and more valuable experience. If you need good advice on meditation apps for traveling check out the article from CNN.
Mindfulness expert Mark Coleman has made a guided meditation for British Airways specially for air plane travelers. It helps you gain focus, calmness and rest during you flight.
If you have fear of flying practicing mindfulness can help you calm down your nervous system and anxiety by holding your attention in the present moment. This article can inspire you on how to stick to your mindfulness practice during every stage of your travel to prevent you from feeling unease or anxiety: In-flight mindfulness: 5 meditations to try when you’re traveling.
Queues in the airport and train stations or delayed flights, busses and trains can induce impatience and agitation. Try to stand up tall, bring equal weight on both your feet and notice your feet touching the ground. Then tune in to your natural breath and notice the sensations when the air comes in and leaves your body.
The endorphins that are released when you smile help to decrease your stress levels, aid relaxation and makes you feel happy. And smiling is contagious – think about the difference it would make in all travel situations if everybody smiled and acted compassionate towards each other.
One of the things that push our emotional buttons is traffic. You know that feeling?
And it's not in the car on the highway you should close your eyes and do a meditation. But you can practice mindful exercises just by paying attention to your body and your breath. Feel your hands on the wheel, your body against the seat. Do I feel relaxed? Do I breathe deeply and calmly or do I have a shallow breath stucked in my chest? Try noticing the breath coming in and out of your nose. Driving is a great place to practice the mindful attitudes of acceptance and trust (all is well), letting go, patience, awareness in the present moment (don’t get caught up in thoughts and dramas about the other drivers), compassion, non-judging, non-striving and beginners mind.