Covid19 doesn’t own your mind. Here’s how to meditate
Dealing with Covid19 is highly stressful. There’s no question that meditation can help to reduce the chronic level of stress you may be struggling with. I realize that not everyone is inclined to practice meditation, but why not let me give you a brief overview as to how you might begin to practice this very valuable skill.
I would describe meditation as nothing more—and nothing less—than the practice of learning to be still. Here is a simple, no-frills way to incorporate meditation into your daily life. With a bit of familiarity, you’ll become adept enough at being still, allowing yourself to experience the solace of liberation from conflict. The good news is that a few minutes a day is all that’s needed to get the point about how easy it is to let go of doubts, fears, and negative thinking.
First rule: don’t overdo it!
If you try too hard, you’ll become frustrated and wind up abandoning your practice. So start out slowly. If you begin to feel too frustrated or uncomfortable, stop. From the beginning, your experience needs to be positive and restorative, certainly not stressful. To experience the concept of letting go, just a minute or two at first will suffice. In time, if you want to explore the boundless benefits of meditation, you can build up to fifteen minutes, a half hour, or longer. But I must warn you: if you approach meditation with a typically Western attitude of “no pain, no gain,” you will be defeating the purpose and potential benefit.
Next, find a comfortable sitting position on the floor (a straight back chair will do if sitting on the floor is difficult); inserting a cushion under your tailbone can help. A crossed leg is best, but it may take some practice to sustain this position. If you do sit in a chair, make sure your back is well supported, and whether on the floor or in a chair, keep your head balanced over your torso to prevent your head from drooping. As you find a comfortable position, you can either close your eyes or find a point of focus—for example, a candle or specific reference point. If you choose a candle, I find it helps to almost completely shut your eyes, leaving a slit for the candle rays to be noticed.
Now bring your awareness to your breathing. For thousands of years the practice of meditation has centered on the breath. Breathing acts as a hook for you to maintain a steady focus while trying to step apart from distracting thoughts. Breathe normally through your nose. It helps to experiment a bit until you can hear a kind of faint “ocean” or “hissing” sound in your nasal passages as you breathe in and out through the nostrils.
Many people incorporate a mantra to assist in maintaining focus. A mantra is any word or phrase that you repeat over and over with each breath. It could have personal or religious significance or, for that matter, it could be any word or words that appeal to you. If you are feeling anxious, for example, you might want to employ a mantra like Stop & Drop; as you inhale, you think the word stop (stop the runaway train of anxious thinking) and as you exhale, you think the word drop (let these thoughts go). Recapping using this example: breathe in through the nose, aware of a slight hissing…silently saying the word “stop” to yourself. At the end of this inhalation, notice an ever so slight pause just prior to exhaling. As you exhale, silently say the word, “drop.” Keep repeating this sequence along with your own personal mantra…inhale…exhale.
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