So it’s been quite a while since my last post… a reflection of my ongoing efforts to find balance between all of the things I enjoy doing. If your life is anything like mine, it can often feel like you’re being tugged in all kinds of different directions. Responsibilities, friends, family, work obligations, and just plain fun stuff… tug, tug, tug! And again, here we are, dancing back and forth across that line where elusive balance can be found. I’m glad we can share this journey together! In that previous post, I said I was going to write soon about how yoga therapy can address the many symptoms of depression. While I promise I’ll get to that in the near future, I’ve been inspired to write about something else in the meantime
For the past two weeks, I’ve been attending quite a few trainings. I offer evidence-based interventions in my practice and they require ongoing support & training. Two weeks ago, I learned about outcome measures for Seeking Safety, a program for those healing from trauma and substance use, and received an introduction to Supported Employment, a model that helps those with chronic mental health issues find & keep self-supporting jobs. Last week, I spent a day and a half getting a booster training for Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT). Then I realized that I had to go downtown again to deliver something to the Department of Mental Health offices that oversee one of the programs I coordinate. Whew! While being away from the office is challenging, I’ve enjoyed the trainings because they’ve given me an opportunity to reflect on what I’m doing well and what I can do better, as well as re-connect with colleagues that I don’t get to see very often. Self-reflection, particularly when we can do it in a non-judgmental way, is an important part of both personal and professional growth.
I live and work in Los Angeles, where everything is r—e—a—l—l—y spread out. We measure distance here not by miles, but by how long it takes to get from A to B, both with traffic and without. Even if you’re only travelling 15 miles, it could take 20 minutes or 2 hours. So in planning to go to several trainings in the downtown L.A. area, I decided to see if I could get there on the city’s Metro system. Luckily, even my trainings was within a short walk of a Metro station, so I ended up taking 5 trips to the downtown L.A. area via climbing lots of stairs, sitting, reading, listening to music, and walking. Now I can hear you saying to yourselves, “But, Amber, this has nothing to do with mental health and yoga!” Ahhhh, but it does… Here are 6 reasons why using public transportation can be good for you, the planet, and your yoga practice.
- You’ll spend less time being grumpy in traffic – OK, so maybe you’ll still be grumpy on the bus/train! But you won’t have all those other crazy drivers driving you bonkers with their unannounced lane changes and sudden stops. Can’t you feel your shoulders relaxing just thinking about it?! Yes, there are still lots of people to contend with on public transit and if you are so inclined, you can slip into your own world via your favorite music or reading material.
- You’ll save money – My five trips to the downtown L.A. area over the last few weeks involved about 40 miles round trip each time. That’s 200 miles total. Driving that would’ve cost me around $16 in my little Prius ($4.10/gallon, 50mpg). But then there’s wear & tear on my car plus parking. I swear parking in this city is such a racket! I think average costs for the locations I went were somewhere between $10-15 a day, depending on how close the lot was to the location. So let’s say at the low end, I would’ve spent around $66 for mileage & parking. My Metro passes? $27. That’s less than half the cost of driving!
- You’ll have time to read – While you might try to read the morning paper during your daily drive to the office, it’s really not a good idea. And all those books collecting dust on your nightstand will finally get some well-deserved attention from you. Whether it’s funny stuff or spiritual stuff or academic stuff, you can sit and read during your time on the bus/train. This is a self-nurturing activity that refills your energy stores to get through all those daily to-do lists.
- You might gain some empathy for pedestrians – When driving, I’m not always very patient with people crossing the streets that I’m trying to drive on (yes, even when they do it appropriately & legally). But as a frequent walker in the past two weeks, I gained a greater appreciation for the hazards of walking in the city. Let’s face it, empathy is good for the soul because we’re all bozos on the same bus J The more we can each recognize that we are all doing the best we can with what we have, the better off we’ll all be.
- You can break out of your couch-sitting slump – All the climbing up and down stairs, plus walking from the Metro stations to my final destinations got me a whole lot more exercise in the past two weeks than I typically get in my daily life. I practice yoga regularly, but walking is a whole different thing. And walking a few times a week can really shift you into a healthier lifestyle, as you get your body moving and heart working at the level recommended to maintain cardiac health. (Naturally, consult with your doctor before beginning any exercise routine).
- It’s good for the planet (and therefore, YOU!) – According to the Federal Transit Administration, all forms of transportation bundled together account for 28 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. Reported at that same FTA website, a report is cited that found “public transportation reduces carbon dioxide emissions by 37 million metric tons annually.” That sure sounds like a lot to me! So if you ride your bike, walk, and take public transit, you can decrease your carbon footprint. Make no mistake, the earth was here long before us and she will be here long after us, but if we want the planet to sustain human life we probably ought to take better care of her.
If after reading this, you still live in a small city with no public transit or a big city with lots of public transit challenges (Ahem, L.A., anyone? A few light rail lines do not an efficient system make!), fret not. Perhaps public transit isn’t the way for you to improve the health of you or your planet. But there are lots of other ways to keep yourself healthy, whether physically, mentally, spiritually, or emotionally. For more ideas, visit the Soulful Healing archives! Thanks for reading and be well!