Last year a DoT official said something about traffic being merely a state of mind. I got reminded of this when I heard a story recently about an Uber driver who took a German customer through Edsa at its worst, probably during weekday rush hour. The German guy was reportedly too amazed at the phenomenon of traffic: “Wow, the cars are not moving! At all!” To him it was probably a departure from what he was used to back home. In other words, traffic could be a good thing if we see it with fresh (foreign?) eyes.
Here are 8 ways to convert the nightmare into a spiritual dream.
1. Bond with your travel companion.
It is the perfect time to go through the “36 Questions that Lead to Love, if you are with your significant other. If not, then you can simply spend the travel time bonding with your travel companion. What was the name of your first pet? Did you like Algebra?
2. See the beauty in every detail.
William Blake wrote: “To see a World in a Grain of Sand / And a Heaven in a Wild Flower / Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand / And Eternity in an hour.” Imagine how many eternities you can hold in the palm of your hand simply by spending three hours on Edsa on a Friday night?
3. Pray. Meditate. Chant.
The religious devotees stuck in traffic would pray the rosary and recite the litanies but still wouldn’t be nowhere near their destination when they are all done with the prayers. Traffic provides us with an extended opportunity to say our prayers, to stay in a meditative state, or even to chant our mantras.
4. Practice sitting, inch closer to enlightenment.
For Zen Buddhists for whom proper sitting is part of the daily spiritual practice, sitting in a super crowded FX, bus, train, or jeepney offers a good chance to practice keeping the spine and neck straight, the head balanced and centered, the feet flat where they should be. Three hours in smoky, noisy, chaotic traffic beats the 2-hour zazenkai inside the zendo where it is quiet, cool, and the floor cushioned.
5. Pranayama practice.
You can emerge out of rush hour traffic with renewed prana (vital life force) if you could only use the time in controlled breathing practice. You might want to strategize about making the single-nostril breathing sequence more discreet if you are in a public utility vehicle.
6. Practice mindfulness.
When you bring your attention to the present moment, that is mindfulness. Basically, all you have to do is listen to every beep and honk, take in the red tail lights, be aware of the smoke and dust that surround you. Just trust the experts when they say that mindfulness actually takes away worry and anxiety. Sit and immerse yourself in the beauty of traffic.
7. Read your holy book.
Whether you like reading the Bible, the Quran, the Gita, Torah/Talmud, or even if it’s Anton LaVey’s masterpiece, traffic time is a good time to catch up on your reading of sacred texts.
8. Learn to read people’s aura.
The jeepney or train is actually good training ground because you sit in front of unsuspecting subjects and there is nothing else to do. Read up on the topic and do it regularly so you can get the hang of it. You get to while away the time, learn to do something new, and get a deeper understanding of the people around you—great benefits brought to you by Metro Manila traffic.
Got any more tips? Share them with us below!