quarantine

Meditation for Beginners

Meditation Blog Pic

As the pandemic continues, a lot of talk has turned to mental health. How are we faring at home, void of social contact, stripped of our normal routines, off balance and isolated? How is our anxiety level as we contemplate our financial future, our careers, the safety of our re-entry into the world? Although we are resting, spending quality time with our families, eating well and spending less, many of us are struggling to stay positive and keep our minds on a healthy trajectory. The length and uncertainty of the situation is wearing and there are days that it is hard to hold up the positive.

I have been doing well for the most part. However, there are times when the anxiety creeps in and there are nights that I do not sleep soundly. There is also the added pressure I am putting on myself to be productive, to use this time wisely and find ways of bettering myself. I have been working towards strengthening my ability to put positive thinking to work, to attract what I really want from my life. My belief in the “law of attraction”  is unwavering. However, it is only as good as the vision itself and I have also been seeking ways to get more in touch with my life’s purpose.

All of this searching has led me to consider the benefits of meditation.

According to a report published by the Mayo Clinic on April 22, 2020, meditation has numerous benefits, ranging from the reduction of anxiety, depression, insomnia, and chronic pain to the increase of imagination, creativity, patience and self-awareness. 

Full article: https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/meditation/in-depth/meditation/art-20045858)

I have known about these claims for years and have wanted to integrate meditation practices into my life. However, creating a consistent routine has not happened and it is only through the current crisis that I have realized now is as good a time as any to give it a try.

Through my research I am finding that there are many forms of meditation and it can be easy, simple, and fun. It can be done anywhere for any length of time and can be tailored to your individual taste and lifestyle. For example, some may find a form of meditation while participating in a challenging physical activity, learning a difficult piece of music, walking in nature, or staring into the flame of a favorite candle. Once we become more practiced, we can bring meditation into the daily workings of our life and use it to achieve more mindfulness and peace.

In her book, Meditation: Easy Techniques to Help You Relax and Focus, Jan Purser outlines different types of meditation such as breath-watching, visualization, mantra, music, walking, and object focus. She gives the reader different options for posture and breathing and exercises to get your practice started. She describes how some may want to use music as a way to still the mind while others may be attracted to the use of color, crystals, or essential oils. 

Whatever method you chose, the results are sure to prove valuable. Like most things, if you set the intention and then show up, you’ll experience the desired outcome. It can be that simple.

I plan to practice meditation for at least one month starting today. I’m excited to try the various suggestions presented by Purser as well as to create a few of my own. I also plan to keep track of any changes I notice through journaling (which is a daily practice I already have underway) to note how my anxiety levels, sleep, and connection to my inner self may be affected. I encourage you to do the same. After all, if even a few of the benefits shown in the studies prove true, it may be just the panacea we’ve needed all along.

 

When Enough is Enough

Vision Board

We have been sheltering in place for over a month and while at first it was nice to get the rest, focus on friends and nature walks, have extra time to catch up on neglected projects, and reduce work hours, enough is enough. Our closets have been cleaned out, the puzzles completed, yards raked and mulched, trails hiked and books read.  We are ready to return to our normal lives.

Not just yet, I’m afraid.

The pandemic continues to grow and the curve of fatalities and those infected with Covid-19 is still rising in many locations. We are not even close to getting the situation under control and returning to life in any safe fashion seems months away at best. We need to stay strong and dig deep, and despite the mental and emotional challenges that most of us are facing, we still need to stay home in order to save lives. 

I am a proponent of positive thinking. I believe that our thoughts create reality and as Shakespeare so eloquently put it in his play Hamlet, “ There is neither good nor bad but thinking makes it so.”  I work regularly to direct my mind towards the good, while keeping negativity and fear at bay.  In the case of the current pandemic, I believe there are blessings and hardships and where we place our focus will not only affect our approach but also the outcome. 

Easier said than done. 

There are days when I feel sad, defeated, and fearful. In an article published in the Harvard Business Review (March 23, 2020), Scott Berinato states that part of what we are feeling is grief. There is the “loss of normalcy; the fear of economic toll; the loss of connection,” not to mention the collective grief we are facing due to the staggering death toll that surrounds us daily.

Berinato believes we are also suffering from anticipatory grief which is “that feeling we get about what the future holds when we’re uncertain.” He offers us some ways to manage the grief such as “finding balance in the things we’re thinking, coming into the present, letting go of what we can’t control, and stocking up on compassion.”

Full Article: https://hbr.org/2020/03/that-discomfort-youre-feeling-is-grief

Feeling grief is normal and we need to allow time and space to honor it. However, sometimes it is hard to pick ourselves up and get back on the positivity track, especially now as we are faced with growing and sustained challenges.

One way to shift our focus is to put our energies into dreaming and creating visions of what we’d like our lives to be when this is all over (or at least over enough that we are able to go back into the world). If we could have anything we want, what would it look like? 

Pam Grout has a weekly blog and offers a course in Manifesting Magic and Miracles (which I had the great fortune of attending at the Omega Institute in New York several years ago and which literally changed my life). In the course, Pam encourages us to explore what it is we really want and then gives us techniques for manifesting it. Her book, E-Squared, offers several real life experiments which she asks the reader to try as a way to experience how it all works.

Pam’s Website: https://pamgrout.com/

In addition to Pam Grout, I recently stumbled upon Mike Dooley, whose book, Playing the Matrix, outlines a method for achieving all that we could dream of or imagine for our lives. He compares the process to a GPS system whereby you put in the vision or end result as the destination and then shift the car into gear. As you begin to drive (taking steps no matter how small or uncertain), you will be guided down the pathways and roads that will best lead you to your goal. Dooley emphasizes that we should keep our focus on the end point and not get caught up in the details of the journey. He says we should be open to changing course along the way and not get stuck on the “hows.” 

I would like to propose that on days we are feeling down or stuck or shut in or hopeless, we get out a piece of paper and begin planning our future. I suggest we make it as outrageously fantastic as our imaginations will allow. We can add pictures or drawings or whatever it takes to add inspiration and joy. We should dream big and begin to move in some direction, any direction, while keeping the end vision in mind. We don’t need to understand how we will get there, we just need to believe that we will.