This year has already been tough for all of us. Now, with the new mandatory lockdown, many of us might be feeling more anxious, stressed, and restless than ever. Whilst this is bound to be inevitable thanks to the less-than-ideal circumstances, it doesn’t mean there is no way to diminish its effects. Meditation can be the answer for many.
Some people think meditation is nothing but sitting in a dark room and attempting to push away every passing thought. It is a common misconception, one that can be very discouraging. So what exactly is it to meditate? Well, meditation is an ancient wellness practice used to train the mind, to gain more awareness, attention, and inner peace. Through research, it has been found to have multiple benefits. Benefits that can definitely come in handy in the middle of a lockdown caused by a global pandemic.
Why should you start meditating on this lockdown?
First of all, it can help you feel more relaxed. During meditation, the brain stops processing the information as actively as they normally would. Those annoying spiralling thoughts tend to wind down, allowing you to get a chance to simply resonate with yourself. This is evidenced thanks to a decrease in the beta waves, the ones showing the processing of information, that the brain produces even after a quick practice. Who wouldn’t want to seize the opportunity to calm down when stuck at home?
In addition to helping you relax, meditation is an effective approach to coping with anxiety and stress-related issues such as obsessive-compulsive behaviours. By giving yourself a portion of the day to clear your mind from anything that might be fogging it or causing you to stress, you will feel a reduction in negative emotions. Taking that time to disconnect from all your concerns can even help you gain a new perspective on any stressful situations that might be holding you back. You might also sense an increase in your imagination and creativity as well as your patience once you start building a more consistent habit out of it.
It will allow you to tune in with the present moment. In a time where you might tend to worry about the future and become nostalgic for the pandemic-free past, taking a few minutes to connect with the here and now can change your outlook on an entire day. Why should you be mindful of the present amidst all that is going on in the world? Because it will help you feel more grounded. If your mind is never in touch with the current circumstances, that will only create more feelings of anxiousness and discontent.
You can also become more aware of yourself by practicing meditation. It will help you be in touch with your actions, emotions, fears, and desires. Even a ten-minute one has the potential to help you be that extra mindful, which is a vital tool for getting through long periods of isolation. When everything else can feel uncertain, it can be extremely gratifying to take a look at yourself and be at ease with it. There is a necessity to take additional care of yourself now more than ever before. Meditation can be a great addition to your self-care routine.
In the subject of a self-care routine, meditation can nurture a sense of self-discipline. Here is the truth, meditation is not the easiest of practices, in fact, it can be one of a considerable learning curve. Still, that does not mean it is not a rewarding habit to build into your day. You might find yourself struggling at first, but that difficulty will turn into gratification sooner than you might expect. By dedicating that time of your routine to meditating, you will feel more accomplished and thankful to yourself for that additional mindfulness.
Furthermore, meditation will most certainly improve your sleep quality. Thanks to the increased relaxation it provides, you will rapidly find yourself falling asleep faster and feeling more rested in the mornings. The 2015 Jama Internal Medicine study analyzed the effects of meditation on people with insomnia, effectively concluding that the participants who took part in mindful meditations experienced fewer insomnia symptoms and a decrease in their daytime fatigue.
Lastly, but not least, the addition of meditation to your day has the potential to make you physically healthier. Not only it gives an overall boost to your immune functions but it also decreases cellular inflammation and lowers your blood pressure. Even more, a collective randomized controlled trial showed the potential this practice has when it comes to reducing the risks of cardiovascular disease. These are all benefits that turn more vital during these times.
How can you start building your meditation practice?
The easiest way to bring your meditation journey is to set aside just ten to twenty minutes a day to do it. Then, you will have to either lay down or sit in a comfortable place and close your eyes. Tune in with your breath, paying attention to what thoughts start passing through your mind. Practice learning to let them go. Perhaps try to focus on a specific goal for that practice, such as being more compassionate with yourself and the others or finding the small things you feel grateful for. You will soon start to notice what you like to include in your practice and what you prefer to leave out for the moment.
If solo meditation does not sound too appealing, there are free guided meditations you can try. These usually consist of five to thirty-minute practices during which you will listen to the soothing voice of an instructor. Their voice will guide you through the entire process and provide you with certain objectives or tips for the session. One of the best things about guided meditations is the way they allow you to choose from a variety of themes for the practice, making it easier for you to set a goal to focus on. A particular favourite of mine is the fifteen-minute inner ocean calm meditation with the lovely Phoebe Greenacre.
One final thought before you try it
Remember, meditation is a mindfulness practice designed to bring you joy. It should not feel like an obligation or one more inconspicuous task to cross off your to-do list. This is supposed to be a moment dedicated to taking better care of yourself. It is okay to not do it every day, perhaps three times a week, or whenever you feel the need to. These are more stressful times than ever, there is no need to turn this into an all or nothing sort of thing. As long as you feel like the routine works for you, then you are better off sticking to it.
Find the meditation practice that makes you feel the best version of yourself. Try a new technique or e-visit an instructor if you feel the itch to switch it up. Make the most out of that moment of the day. Stay safe, stay emotionally balanced, and give meditation a try during this lockdown.