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The boat that Rocks! Making the most of your ferry commute

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To make the most of your ferry commute to Central, practicing psychologist and 23-year resident Sandra Comer suggests you simply sit back and relax.

When I first moved to DB in 1995, ferry was the only viable way to get in and out – and for many of us early residents that was in fact part of the resort’s appeal. We wanted to be that little bit removed from the city, surrounded by nature and open spaces, and the fact that we had to hop on a boat to get home was psychologically uplifting – it made us feel that we weren’t part of the rat race; it made us feel free.

This still holds true today, and despite the many forms of transportation now available to and from DB, taking the ferry remains my preferred option by a long shot. It’s a wonderful, unique and stress-free way to travel. 

A time to decompress

I’ve come to relish my short but valuable time travelling to and from my psychology practice in Central. Twenty-five minutes seems like the perfect amount of time to prepare for work or transition from work to home. A time to decompress, let go of the stress of the day (how about putting your phone on silent), and prepare to relax and enjoy time with family and friends.

How many people could use an extra 50 minutes of uninterrupted time a day? You can read the paper or a novel; make a to-do list; do a crossword puzzle; send an email; eat breakfast/ lunch/ dinner; do your make-up (the lighting can’t be beat); or just relax, listen to music and tune out. Of course, if you would rather socialise this is also an option.

We’re a tight-knit community and I’d   go so far as to say that the ferry ride plays a part in this, since it provides a unique opportunity for us to pass time with friends and neighbours. I find it heart-warming to start and end my working day surrounded by familiar faces, and I also appreciate the unspoken ‘ferry rule’ which dictates that you don’t approach a friend without first making direct eye contact. Keep your head in a book as you settle into your seat and you won’t be disturbed!

On the whole, everyone, even the teenagers, keeps things on the down-low and, in all my 23 years of of commuting, I’ve never once seen an incident of ferry rage.

Quieting the mind

These days, I like to integrate a period of meditation into my time on the ferry, and this is something I would highly recommend to everyone. Many of my clients are stressed from working long hours and often complain of insomnia. I encourage them to practice meditation or some other form of relaxation on a regular basis. Despite initial enthusiasm, no having the time is often the reason they are not persistent.

The health benefits of ‘quieting’ the mind are well established. Meditation lowers blood pressure, lowers the levels of blood lactate, decreases pain associated with tension (headaches, insomnia, muscle and joint problems), increases serotonin production (which improves mood) and improves the immune system, to name a few benefits.

In fact, when researchers from Johns Hopkins University performed a met-analysis of 47 well-designed studies to examine the efficacy of meditation, they concluded that mindful meditation can help ease anxiety, depression and pain. Their results were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Internal Medicine in 2014.

In order to reap the most benefits, it is important to practise relaxation on a regular lar basis. Relaxation techniques like any other skill improve with practice, so start off slow (five to 10 minutes) and work your way up. There are many different techniques available and it’s important to the find the one that feels right to you.

Mindfulness meditation has become more popular in recent years. It involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing, and bringing your attention to the present, while letting go of concerns about the past or the future. In his book Being Peace, Vietnamese Buddhist monk and peace activist Thich Nhat Hanh offers this short mindful meditation: “Breathing in, I calm my body. Breathing out, I smile. Dwelling in the present moment, I know this is a wonderful moment.”

There are many apps or YouTube-guided meditation recordings available that can be downloaded free of charge. Check out www.mindfulness-solution.com which has guided recordings by Dr Ronald Siegel, author of The Mindfulness Solution: Everyday Practices for Everyday Problems. Find one that appeals to you and sit back, listen to your script, and let the motion of the ferry lull you into a deep state of relaxation and calmness.

Hey, if you do, you might even live longer and be able to enjoy the money you’ve squirrelled away working 12+ hours a day!

Psychologist Sandra Comer has lived in DB for 23 years. You can contact her through Lauren Bramley & Partners in Central, 2877 6068.

Image: Baljit Gidwani – www.evoqueportraits.com 

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