Public transportation is a convenient way to get around town that’s much better for the environment than driving. But often, we forget about the benefits of travelling with others and would rather isolate ourselves by driving alone. If environmental concerns aren’t enough to cause you to use public transportation, here are some other reasons why NOT driving might be a good idea.

Time to meditate – Since you won’t be worried about the chaos of the road, travel time on public transportation can double as meditation time. If you can train your mind to block out all noise and movements, then you’re strengthening your capacity for concentration. Pay attention to the sensations of your body while riding. Which muscles are you using automatically without being fully aware? Dr. John Kaplan explains more on this topic in his YouTube video “Subway Meditation” (see below).

Mindful awareness of the atmosphere – When you’re not busy paying attention to your driving, transportation allows you to be more cognizant of things around and within you. Observe your surroundings and how they affect your senses and emotions. For example, noticing the sun shining down on green grass can be a real treat, but only when you remember to give it your full attention. Commuting on public transportation may also be a good time to contemplate. Here, surrounded by others, you may be able to consider life on a larger scale, and take a more external perspective of the world.

Engage socially – Most of the time, we avoid conversation with strangers in public places because we have an irrational fear of making a bad impression or looking silly, which is partly why we prefer to drive alone. But fear not; we are social beings and enjoy the company of others. Public transportation gives us a great opportunity to interact with fellow travellers. Heighten your mindfulness by talking to someone new.

Breathe – A quiet bus, train or subway is the perfect place to practice breathing exercises. Paying attention to the sensation of breathing is an excellent way to initiate mindful awareness for the day. Deep breathing can also be an effective way to de-stress your body on the way home.

In addition to the environmental benefits that public transportation affords, travel time can be used more efficiently for fitting mindfulness into a hectic schedule. Buses, street cars, trains or subways are all great options when it comes to public transportation. Carpooling can be another option, so long as your fellow carpoolers don’t mind you focusing your attention elsewhere at times. Take a break from driving once in a while. Help the environment and be mindful, “two birds, one stone” style.

Watch Subway Meditation:

If you drive rather than take public transportation, check out: AWAKE AT THE WHEEL: Mindful Driving by Michele McDonald>>

image: Mike Lee (Creative Commons – BY-NC)