The world as we know it continues to change at a crucial speed. Sometimes we may find it difficult to catch up to how fast things are moving. As current events continue to unfold with COVID-19, fear and unsettling thoughts have most likely hit an all-time high. Therefore, this is the perfect timing to sit in silence and learn to meditate. “Silence is an excellent way to quiet our habitual busy bodies and overactive rational minds while becoming more receptive, self-reflective and sensitive.” ( Kipfer, 2015, p.55). What better way to return to silence than with meditation?
Meditation began in India and is said to have been practiced since the early dates of 5000 to 3500 BCE. Meditation is known to have a variety of benefits and people practice for many different reasons. Meditation can be specifically helpful in mental, physical and spiritual healing. Meditation is said to decrease anxiety, help one cope with life’s stressors, regain focus, increase motivation and be an inspiration for creativity, among many other positives. In short, “Meditation practices can help you sit still and explore the territory of your big mind, to find the calm center that exists in you.” (Kipfer, 2015). Below you will find 5 steps to kick start your meditation journey.
Creating a Space: This can be considered a sacred space, or a space in which you would go to hear yourself think, so to speak. One can burn candles, incense, while smooth jazz or sounds of nature are playing in the background. Or you may choose to sit in complete and utter silence in a very dark room. You can sit or lie down with a cushion, or even practice a walking meditation. No matter how you choose to create your space, it is essence to create a space that is right for you, the individual.
Taking Time: Many people speak about how they would love to meditate or journal, but they don’t feel they have the time. Though it may be something to aspire to, it is not completely necessary to meditate for 30 minutes to an hour at a time. If you are new to practicing meditation, or if you feel you can’t keep focus for long periods of time, it may be helpful to begin with just 5 minutes. The beauty of meditation is that it is a process and a process includes taking things one step at a time.
Just Breathe: One of the biggest keys to practicing meditation is allowing your body, mind and spirit to just relax. As breathing is something we do naturally, it is not typically something consciously think about. Practicing meditation or mindfulness consist of elevating our levels of awareness, being aware of each breathe we take, taking one slow deep breath in through the nose, and exhaling slowly through the mouth, through the entire process keeping focus on your every breathe.
Acknowledging your Thoughts: As you focus on your breathing, you will most likely become distracted by your thoughts. You may begin to ruminate on things that are happening in the world, at work, or in your personal relationships. See each thought as a car driving by. You see it, then allow to pass out of your view. Rather than becoming obsessed with the particular thought or judging yourself for thinking it, allow yourself to just let it go. Note that you may find yourself redirecting multiple times throughout your session, whether you’re practicing for 5 minutes or for 30 minutes, it is a natural part of the process. Just breathe through it!
Trusting the Process: As previously mentioned, learning to meditate and practicing regularly can be challenging. Eliminating your fear of failing is an important aspect of this journey. It’s not that people fail at meditating or any other endeavor in life, it’s that they usually stop trying. Now that we see meditation as a practice, we may see the importance of taking it one step at a time, and allowing positive change to flow through us.
Stay mindful, stay safe and Namaste!
By Ashley Vazquez, MFT, Capital EAP Counselor