When I moved to London 15 years ago from Germany, I found that I could be incredibly judgemental of the many walks of life I found myself alongside as I travelled on the tube.
Take the person listening to loud music – I recall thinking, "How impolite and inconsiderate! Why can't they turn down the music?" Or the person occupying two seats at peak travel time: "How rude to take up so much space!"
I had all sorts of judgements about the people commuting with me, judgments about what they looked like, their clothes, how they behaved.... My head was often filled with harsh, critical and unkind thoughts about my fellow commuters.
These judgements and negative thinking about others affected how I was feeling. My mood was often low when I commuted – I felt on edge, tense, grumpy and isolated - it felt like me against all the other people on the tube.
Applying a different lensHaving practised mindfulness and meditation for almost nine years, I'm glad to say I now look through a very different lens when I travel on the tube. I see people as they are, in all their shapes, forms, moods, expressions, behaviours, odours, voices.
And when I do sometimes engage in judgement, particularly when someone is rude or listening to loud music, I am much more aware when I do it and can catch myself in the act.
And it is only when our judgements become conscious that we can choose to let them go, to stop engaging in them and to instead see what's actually happening in the moment, i.e. people travelling to work, to home, to see friends or family, just like we are. We can let them be.
Today I travel with a much gentler and more open heart, I feel more connected to my fellow commuters, to the many different people on the same journey as me – through London and through life.
By Karen Liebenguth
Karen is passionate about helping others experience the benefits of a mindfulness practice. An accredited Mindfulness teacher through Breathworks, Karen teaches 8-week Mindfulness for Health and Mindfulness for Stress courses. Karen is also a qualified Life Coach, specialising in coaching while walking in green space, a certified Myers Briggs Personality Type (MBTI) facilitator and Focusing Practitioner. www.greenspacecoaching.com
Free Commuter Meditations - These 10 minute meditations have been recorded specifically to help commuters connect more deeply and compassionately with their experience as they travel too and from their place of work.
Recorded by Singhashri Gazmuri , Breathworks Program Director