The coronavirus pandemic has turned lives upside down. We’ve been forced to face new challenges, adopt new habits, and find creative ways to keep daily life running smoothly. And it’s all been very stressful.
Frederick Health Hospice knows how important it is to practice self-care during tumultuous times like these. If the weight of it all is beginning to bear down on you, the new year is an excellent opportunity to pick up a calming meditation practice!
According to We Know Yoga, mindfulness practices like yoga and meditation offer a range of soothing benefits that can ease tension and alleviate anxiety. Yoga and meditation will restore balance to your body and mind, calming inflammation, and powering down the stress response that causes all sorts of problems like headaches, indigestion, muscle tension, and problems sleeping. We’ve created a quick start guide so you can cultivate these benefits in your own life.
Create a Meditation Space
Creating a dedicated meditation space is a great way to commit to your practice and enhance its calming effects. Over time, your brain will build a link between your meditation space and relaxation, making it easier to disconnect from your hectic life and settle into a mindful practice.
AARP recommends choosing a space in your home that feels serene, so avoid heavily trafficked areas like the living room. Give your home a refreshing boost of positivity by cleaning and opening the windows to let in fresh air. Keep your meditation space clutter-free and incorporate a few elements of nature like a plant or vase of flowers. Make it your own!
Make Yourself Comfortable
When sitting down to meditate, you shouldn’t feel stiff or uncomfortable. Play around with different positions to find one that feels best. To meditate while sitting in a chair, keep your back straight and your feet flat on the floor. Place a pillow behind your lower back if you need some extra support.
You can also meditate lying on your back. This way, your body is completely supported and you can relax into your practice completely. A pillow under your knees will take some stress off your lower back. Remember, you can always modify and adjust your meditation posture as your practice evolves.
If you are completely new to meditation, start with very short sessions of about five minutes daily. Those five minutes will feel like an eternity at first. Over the next few weeks, you can slowly lengthen your sessions to 20, 30, or even 60 minutes. It's important to be gentle with yourself while you get the hang of things.
Your mind is going to wander, and that's okay! When you notice your mind drifting, Left Brain Buddha suggests gently directing your attention back to your breath — or the place in your body where you most notice the sensation of your breath, like your nose or stomach. This is your anchor.
Take Your Practice on the Go
To get the most out of your meditation practice, try to incorporate mindfulness into other aspects of your daily life. Practice mindfulness during your commute, in line at the grocery store, while exercising, or when you’re lying in bed in the evening.
If you’re feeling stressed at work, close your eyes and take five deep breaths to lower your heart rate and refocus your mind. Pausing here and there to practice mindfulness for a few moments will help you remain calm and anchored throughout the day.
We’re still learning how to cope with the changes brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. While it’s natural to feel stressed right now, try to find ways to protect your body and mind from the effects of chronic stress. Meditation is an excellent tool for this purpose, whether you’re just trying to get by or heal from a negative life event.