It is an all too common statement these days. We are living in unprecedented times. Coronavirus has us feeling a myriad of emotions on a regular basis, not to mention the political tension in the United States and other parts of the world, as well as the environmental changes growing more concerning each day.
It is a time that I have personally learned to try to live in the moment and focus on what I can control because let’s face it – there is a lot that is out of control!
In coming to this realization, it occurred to me that my mediation practice helps keep me grounded. Without having the awareness to pause, tune into what I’m feeling without judgment, and find calm amidst the chaos, I would more than likely be curled up in a corner crying during most days.
Aside from the basic preconception that meditation is sitting still and being calm, it is also learning how to focus your mind and breath to find a calm center and draw in awareness. By doing this on a regular basis, new connections are made in our brains so that this calm awareness can be taken into other parts of our lives. Making this connection can be a very spiritual practice regardless of religion.
If you are just starting a meditation practice, allow yourself a few minutes each day to sit and focus on your breath, a candle, a word, or listen to a guided meditation. Gradually you will start to slow down the chattering mind and connect to your breath, which allows more relaxation and the ability to let go of anxiety.
If you already have a regular meditation practice this is a good opportunity to go deeper into training your mind from the flow of negativity, fear and self-doubt by adding more time to your daily meditation and beginning to recognize the habitual patterns of the thoughts that come up when you sit in a quiet space.
Whether you are a beginner or a guru, I’d like to share a few tips that have helped me reconnect to myself and my spiritual side during these crazy times.
There are so many reasons to meditate. Feeling low on energy, feeling anxious, frustrated, or angry, and having trouble focusing are some of the negative feelings that inspire starting a meditation practice. Wanting more calm, clarity, patience, compassion, and happiness are the positive motivations.
During meditation it is normal for the mind to be scattered because we spend so much of our lives running from one thing to another. So, when we finally slow down, it takes our minds a moment to catch up and stop releasing those thoughts.
So, what is the solution? Set a timer to sit for 1-10 minutes and do that. Just sit, focus on your breath, notice your thoughts as they come up, and let them go.
Once you’ve taken some time to get comfortable with simply being with your mind, tuning into your breath, and being more aware, determine how you feel.
Sitting with your mind and breath is a form of breath awareness meditation, however, there are many other forms of meditation available, so you can determine what fits you best in each moment.
Mantra – Mantra is focusing your mind on something that resonates with you. It can be a word or a sentence that you can speak out loud or think in your mind.
Mantras can be something personal to you that you have created, such as “Love” or “I am a Warrior not a Worrier” or they can be from the traditional yogic Sanskrit, such as “Om Mani Padme Hum”. Although this mantra doesn’t have a formal translation to English, it is used to invoke the capacity for compassion of self and others, as it relates to the Buddha of Compassion.
Body Scan and Visualization – To try this form of meditation, start by sitting in a comfortable position and begin to slowly scan your body from the tips of your toes to the crown of your head and visualize how each area feels. You can visualize a color, each actual body part, the flow of breath in each area or anything else that inspires you.
As you settle into each area of your body, invite peace and tranquility into that area before making your way to the next space.
Mindfulness Meditation – The beauty of this form of meditation is that it can be done anywhere as all it requires is tuning in to the present moment. This can be done in your car, at work or school, or while doing chores at home. By calmly noticing your surroundings and how your body and mind are reacting to those surroundings you are being mindful and present to the moment.
As I mentioned before, meditating can be a spiritual practice regardless of religion. You can add any amount of spirituality that brings peace to you and allows your best self to shine through.
If nature is a spiritual space for you, you can meditate outside if the weather is agreeable. If not, you can add the sounds of nature to your indoor meditation by finding the sounds of birds, leaves rustling in the wind, or a babbling brook.
Reciting a mantra or prayer allows the energy of those words to flow through you.
If music offers spiritual inspiration, adding songs as background to your meditation can be very uplifting.
Art can be added by meditating in front of your favorite photograph, sculpture, painting, or poster.
As you can see, the possibilities are endless. What matters most is connecting to something that provides grounding, nurturing spiritual energy.
As a result of your meditation practice you can leave the craziness of the world behind. You may even feel more peaceful with yourself and others by recognizing the inner workings of your mind, as well as finding a space of quiet and tranquility that you can return to whenever you need to.