Why Meditation is a Great Way to Cope During the COVID-19 Lockdown
Uncertainty of the future, worries over the health of the most fragile, and economic recession, and homeschooling. All of these and more, whether profound or superficial, are the basis for the chronic anxiety that is plaguing us at the moment.
As we spend our days wondering if things will ever go back to normal, we turn to distractions (Hello Tiger King!) or to fleeting pleasures (Hello bar cart!) wondering: is there perhaps a better, more long lasting way to cope with our anxieties? The answer I've found has been: yes, in meditation. A few moments in the day or week where you can turn inward, tap into your gratitude bank, and remind yourself that you can be at peace regardless of the situation.
As Austrian neurologist, psychologist and Holocaust survivor, Viktor Frankl once said: "Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way." In this vein, I reached out to three meditation coaches who share the importance of this practice to help us to continually stay in the light despite the grim situation around us. Read on to find our how you can start a meditation practice right now.
Sara Black is a celebrated photographer who, through a personal journey of healing, has discovered the yogic path and become a Meditation and Radiant Energy coach. She trained in the Himalayas, practices Sattva Yoga and leads people - whether it’s through their personal practice or in a corporate setting - to reduce stress, find Peace and discover their Inner Light.
Why do you believe meditation is an important tool for maintaining good mental health during this time?
"Fear and anxiety are riding high on our emotional scales at the moment. Anxiety is our inability to let go of the past or too much projection into the future. Fear stems from the unknown or the uncertain in the future, something that we think is coming but have no control over. Both emotions wreak havoc because when saturated in them, it removes us from the present moment. Meditation elevates our present moment consciousness, giving us the exact technique and technology to bring us into the Now with ease. When we are truly present, we realize that lingering in the past or projecting too much into the future doesn’t have value when it disrupts our peace. Meditation teaches you to locate that space within where you can transcend doubt and all the mental chatter and come into a space of radical trust and surrender. The truth is we have no control over the future, but we can master our current state of being right now. And we always have a choice to be in Peace. We just need the tools to help bring us back over and over again."
How can we start a simple meditation practice?
"Sit with a long tall spine, close your eyes and start to tune in to your breath. Just be an innocent witness, without judgment or expectation. Bring awareness to the air coming in through the nose and the air exiting the nose. Notice how focusing on the breath brings you to the present moment. As soon as you feel grounded and anchored, begin a 4 part Yogic breath. Inhale through the nose for 4 counts, hold the breath in for 4, exhale through the nose for 4 counts, hold the breath out for 4. Repeat the cycle for minimum 5 minutes. You can choose your favourite classical music piece that is around the same length of time, and to breath to that. Stay with your eyes closed and keep breathing with the 4 equal parts until the music ends. If you're feeling the urge to open your eyes, just tell yourself a little bit more. At the end of the piece, stay for a few more moments with your eyes closed. Then open them slowly and take your time. Stay a few moments here and notice the shift in your energy to a more calm state. When 5 minutes is easy, keep working your way up to 20 minutes. Anchor yourself in the breath. It's such an elegant mechanism that sustains our life at all moments in time."
Sara’s next Online Course is a Meditation Initiation using Himalayan techniques covering both practice and philosophy which will run from May1-30. Students will have the opportunity to meditate with her via livestream everyday for 30 days until the habit takes root. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to receive more details. Visit www.sarablack.com to learn more about me, my story and why it's my life purpose to teach. Instagram @seethelight.bethelight
Kimi Lu is a licensed Certified Master Neuro-Linguistic Hypnotherapy Life and Corporate Coach, Reiki Master Practitioner. She has a decade long experience and loves co-creating and holding space for like-hearted beings on their journey to discovering their truest selves. She is also the author of “Masturdating: Intentional Guidebook to Celebrate Life!”, which features exercises written for nurturing self-love.
How can meditation help us get through this anxious time?
“If your thoughts are becoming negative or you have distressing and overwhelming emotions, meditation can help you clear them away and anchor you in the present moment. Breathing is an essential part of meditation because it immediately takes you to a relaxed state. Your breath is essentially connected to how you’re feeling so if you’re breathing slowly, it sends a signal to your brain that suggests for you to calm down and release any tension in your body. When you’re breathing properly, you are in control of how you’re feeling. This puts you in a healthy mental state — you can think properly, you can sleep properly, you can see things in a bigger and better perspective.”
Can you give us one easy exercise we can do right now?
“You can try 'ho'oponopono,' an ancient Hawaiian practice that involves repeating these 4 phrases: I love you, I’m sorry, please forgive me, thank you. Try repeating them in this order for ten times and you’ll feel lighter afterwards. It's one way of cleansing our emotional state and you can do it anytime, anywhere.”
Kimi is offering a free 10-day meditation program. Visit her website www.kimilulifecoach.com and follow me on Instagram @kimilulifecoach for more information and multiple live sessions. She is also coaching privately through her Well-Being Boost Program for individuals and companies. Email email@example.com to book your slot.
Neil Salang is a yoga and meditation teacher whose practice started in the early 90's. He is a devotee of the Self Realization Fellowship in the US and a Director or Manila Meditation Circle SRF. He is the Founder of Awake.ph, a website that aims to help anyone who wants to start a meditation practice. Neil also teaches at Yoga+.
Why is meditation important during this time?
“Meditation is very relevant at this time of COVID-19 and even after this lockdown. It is a panacea at my Guru would say, a solution to small, big and all problems. Especially when we are restricted from our usual movement then enclosed in a small area like a condo or our house then we feel anxious. We (Mind & Body) are a ball of 'energy' which needs to be released or utilised properly or else tension builds up within our body and mind. Meditation provides us that proper release. It also manages our fear, anxiety, worry and doubts which plagues the mind on a daily basis and now heightened by this virus. Learning to manage our own mind energy and emotion (heart energy) we can actually enjoy this lockdown and see it as a long break and slow down which everyone needs anyway.”
Any suggestions on how to get started?
“Move your body! There are so many exercises online these days. This will also help release tension in the muscles of the body. Do breathing exercises for 3 - 5 minutes and then sit quietly in meditation for another 3 - 5 minutes.”
Catch Neil’s free live meditation classes everyday at 6pm on Instagram: @awake.com.ph . Find recorded meditation sessions on his Facebook page: Awake.Ph