Why meditation is ESSENTIAL during the COVID 19 Pandemic.
We have never before been flipped upside down like we have right now. We have never before had our entire world literally on PAUSE and transforming right before our very eyes. We have never before seen such drastic change in a matter of minutes, hours, days, and weeks.
Covid has literally taken our breath away whether we have contracted the virus or not. When we watch the news, watch the number of cases rise, the death toll rise, the frustration of not being able to see your loved ones, especially if they got sick, not being able to attend any funerals, not being able to touch or console others is frustrating, sad, and unfathomable.
Covid takes our breath away when we can not celebrate weddings, birthdays, graduations, proms, anniversaries, and more milestone events with the people we love.
It is insane to think that in just one month our whole lives have changed as we know it.
Covid takes our breath away when we think about our future, where is it going, what will it look like tomorrow, next week, next month, next year? It takes our breath away when we think about our finances, can I pay my bills, how do I file for unemployment, I’ve been furloughed, what does that even mean, how will I provide for my family?
The questions, the uncertainty are endless.
It has paralyzed us in so many ways, from having to stay home for who knows how long, to the intense anxiety, and uncertainty of how long this will last? Not even the experts know how long this will continue which causes more anxiety and stress.
How long do I have to keep working from home, and homeschooling my kids, or living alone in isolation, and zoom calls, facetime, the stress and toll it is taking can be intense. When can we go back to “normal”. When will this all just go away? What will be the long term effects of this?
I am sure every single one of us has had many of these thoughts, multiple times a day. It is weighing heavy on us and if we do not deal with this in a healthy manner, it can lead us to drinking too much, eating too much, smoking too much, taking pills too much, not sleeping much, being irritable, picking fights and so much more.
It is easy to fall into a depression and have mental health issues from this situation or exacerbate what was already there.
Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on how you look at it, I have been in this place of uncertainty, loss of job, wondering how I am going to pay the bills, loss of direction, stress, anxiety, feelings of depression and more than once or twice. This pandemic in terms of the feelings it brings up, is nothing new for me. I have actually been here before and meditation has helped get me through it EVERY SINGLE TIME. It is helping me get through this pandemic.
This is exactly why, I know meditation can help you, us, and quite frankly everyone for that matter during this time. You see, meditation does not take away the pain and suffering during these times, but it helps us manage the pain and suffering in a helpful way.
It helps us to:
Better cope with any situation given to us
It helps us to be more resilient,
It helps us to manage our mental thoughts so it does not take us down a road that can lead us to depression or addiction.
It can help us to be more present, centered, grounded
It helps us to be more self-aware
Countless health benefits
Here is why meditation is essential during this time, and how I use it daily to live life with ease during uncertain times.
Our thoughts are one of the only things that can make us stressed, anxious, frustrated, angry, sad, excited, happy, motivated, etc.
“I am so sick of being at home, I am going stir crazy!”
“When is all of this going to be over?
These thoughts and many others like it can go on repeat in our minds. Kind of like your favorite song that you play over and over and over again. Except this thought is an unpleasant one.
The more you dwell on this thought or any others like it the more upset, sad, angry, frustrated you become. This can happen unconsciously too, in which you are not even aware you are saying these things, but you feel anxious, stressed and overwhelmed.
Meditation is essential for all of us, because it is the ONLY thing that will help us to be present. Being present is the ONLY thing that will help us to become more aware of ourselves, thoughts, feelings, and others.
If you are not sure how to fully be present just try to notice your breath. How do you even know you are breathing in this moment? Go ahead give it a try right now. Can you notice your breath in this moment?
The breath is something that we take for granted until we can not breath. :-) We never notice it. It is can be unconscious, just like many of our thoughts.
Let's try it again, see if you can notice your breath right now. Bring your full attention to just one inhale and your full attention to just one exhale.
How did it go?
See you were just present!! Well done!
A lot of meditation focuses on the breath because it can always help us focus us on the present moment.
Our breath is a reminder of the present moment. It is our refuge, it can be our sanctuary, a place we can always return to when things get overwhelming, when thoughts get out of control, when $h*t hits the fan, when we are triggered by the news or something else.
Our breath is ALWAYS there to help us pause, take a moment, let go of what just happened and think about our next best move.
Maybe, the next best move is to cry, to feel the pain, the sadness, the overwhelm, look out the window and think or maybe it is to get back up on your feet and keep going. But whatever your choice, it is most likely more grounded, more centered, and more focused, because you took the time to PAUSE. Believe me, I do many of these things frequently. It is ok, and it is better if you feel it out.
Emotions are ephemeral. Emotions are like waves, they come and they go.
In fact, neuroscientist Jill Bolte Taylor says that feelings only last for -- 90 seconds.
Can you believe that, 90 seconds!
Which means that if you have been feeling angry, upset, frustrated, happy, excited, motivated longer than 90 seconds than it is your thoughts that are making the feelings last longer.
“I am going stir crazy. My kids are driving me nuts. When is this going to be over.”
If this is the thought that is constantly on “repeat” and looping in your mind it is going to be a bad day / week / month, etc. By the way, it is hard to not have this on repeat in your mind. (All the more reason for mindfulness).
However if this is going through your mind….
“I am going to enjoy playing with my kids. I am looking forward to zooming with my colleagues, I am grateful that I am healthy. Things are well. I am blessed.”
You are on your way to having a great day, week, month ahead.
I do not think any of this is new to you. You probably already know the benefits of positivity and thinking positive.
My point is that, are you even aware of these thoughts going through your mind on a consistent basis or is it deeply unconscious like your breathing?
Meditation is essential because it helps us to be acutely aware of the subtleness of our thoughts.
For me, I was repeating a negative story in my head for years that I didn’t realize was there. I was self self-sabotaging myself, which made me feel not good enough, a lack of self-confidence, scared to put myself out there, and fearful of what others might say. It wasn’t until I practiced meditation that really helped me see how I was self-sabotaging myself because of the “repeat” of negative thoughts.
Meditation helps us to feel our emotions in our bodies. Have you ever thought about what anger feels like? Have you ever thought about where you feel anxiety or stress in your body?
For me, anxiety shows up in my chest. I feel a heavy sensation in my chest. I will sometimes get headaches too, if I am working too hard. Once, I even developed a rash!
You see, our bodies are always talking to us in any given moment. Every minute of our day our bodies are speaking to us and telling us how we are doing. However, we tend to be too busy to even notice.
Then when we do notice, we might ignore the headache, or the back ache, or the shoulder pain, or the knee pain etc. But these are all clues that our body is telling us we need to listen. We need to tune in and pay attention.
If we ignore these subtle signs, they can eventually turn into major problems, like high blood pressure, ulcers, migraines, aneurysms, strokes, heart attacks and more.
Meditation is essential because it helps us to be aware of our body sensation which in turn can help save ourselves from health risks in the future.
Additionally, meditation has been shown to help boost our immune system to help fight off diseases. See this study. Boosting our immune system is one of the most important things that we can do right now in the midst of this pandemic.
Many experts in the field would say that meditation is not a panacea, but to be honest, and in my opinion, it is pretty darn close.
If you want to live with less anxiety during this pandemic, less stress, if you want be able to focus better, be more productive, if you want to support your health, increase your immune system, get more in tune with your body. I strongly urge you to pick up a meditation practice.
If you want some support and help (actually, who doesn’t want help and support during this time-- we could all use it) check out this FREE weekly meditation session and join us for Tues / Thur morning meditations here.
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