If your lifestyle requires you to travel regularly, you'll notice it taking a toll on you both mentally and physically. To help reduce the side effects of excessive travelling, I've come up with three simple meditations that can be done anytime and anywhere to decrease stress, improve sleep, increase energy and keep you balanced while on the road.
While you can't be expected to do yoga in the airport or start chanting on a plane, you can always find a corner to close your eyes and turn inward for a moment, requiring nothing but the power of your mind and breath.
Body scan: to encourage restful sleep
Body scanning is an easy mindfulness exercise to relax the body, calm the mind and shift attention away from overpowering thoughts. It involves spot relaxing each part of the body by focusing on it for a few moments. Practising this meditation in the evening is ideal as it is best performed lying down, encouraging the body and mind to transition from "doing" to "being".
- Lie on your back on a comfortable surface with your legs slightly apart and your arms by your sides. If you are not in bed, place a blanket over your body if you tend to get cold easily.
- Focus on the breath and notice any thoughts or feelings that arise. When they do, try to turn your attention back to your breath and how it feels moving through the body.
- Start by focusing your attention on the toes on your right foot. Be aware of how they feel and gradually move your attention up the right side of your body right up to your head, before continuing down the other side.
- Settle here and notice how your body feels, both part by part and as a whole, and notice how your mind now feels.
Nadi shodanana pranayama: to increase energy levels
This is an energising, cleansing and detoxifying practice that enhances concentration. It involves alternating breathing through the nostrils to control the breath in a way that rejuvenates the nervous system and balances both sides of the brain.
- Sit in a comfortable position, either on the floor with crossed legs or on a chair with your feet flat, ensuring that the head, neck and spine are aligned.
- Decide how to use your hands to control the nostrils; one thumb to close off both nostrils, your thumb and index finger, or your thumb and ring finger (the vishnu mudra method).
- Close your right nostril by pressing the thumb against it gently. Inhale deeply through the left nostril and hold your breath, then move your thumb to your left nostril and close it. Exhale through the right nostril. Keep the thumb on the left nostril and inhale deeply through your right. Hold the breath and then close your right nostril again. Exhale through the left. Repeat 10-20 times.
Ideal destination visualisation: to reduce stress
Visualisation is a powerful tool for quietening the mind and instilling a sense of positivity within. It involves tuning in and blocking out external distractions and the noise of the mind in order to deeper into the subconscious. This reduces clutter in the mind which subsequently diminishes anxiety, giving more positive parts of the mind a chance to be active. Practise this on the plane or before bed to encourage sounder sleep.
- Sit or lie comfortably, somewhere private if possible.
- Close your eyes and focus on your breath. Take three long, deep breaths and then let it settle into a natural rhythm.
- Focus on your third eye (the space between your eyes/eyebrows) and imagine you are arriving at your favourite destination or somewhere you would love to be. This could be a specific place or a vague environment, such as a mountain, a field or the beach.
- Visualise yourself in these surroundings - how it looks, smells, feels. Are you alone or with people? What can you hear? How does it feel to be there in that moment?
- Continue with this visualisation for as long as feels right. If your mind begins to wander, bring it back to this place and return to the scene in your mind, trying to notice new things each time. Let your mind wander without force or resistance.
- Practise this ritual for 5-10 minutes. When you are ready, deepen your breath and start to make slow, subtle movements; wiggle your toes, move your fingers, roll your shoulders. Gently open your eyes if you have the space or privacy, take some gentle stretches.