Remember the days when our lives were so busy we didn't even have time to think? We were overworked, overscheduled and overextended.
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed all that, and now we may be spending too much time thinking while we’re safe at home.
Unfortunately, too much thinking may be drowning us in anxiety over our health, jobs, livelihood, families and futures.
“It’s natural to feel some anxiety any given day, but certainly during these times that can reach new and unhealthy levels that we need to dispel,” says Martha Morales, a Reiki master in El Paso who teaches meditation.
“Meditation can help you redirect your thoughts and quiet the mind,” says Morales, who also runs the Feng Shei Institute and Reiki and Spiritual Tools.
“Our mind is very conditioned from past events, past experiences and our surroundings. Meditation helps us focus on the inside and not external factors.”
Meditation has helped Hector Sanchez, a 43-year-old nursing assistant, be calmer and healthier since he started practicing meditation after the death of his mother two years ago.
“It’s helped me more than I expected and I’ve learned to do two, three-minute meditations on my break or in my car before I go home, especially during this time of the coronavirus pandemic,” Sanchez said.
“My mom used to tell me, ‘suspira,’ (breathe) when I was upset or nervous, so I knew there was something to this,” Sanchez said. “And, of course, mom was right.”
Here’s what you should know about meditation, as well as some tips to begin practicing.
What to know:
- Meditation is a process of quieting the mind in a progressive way.
- It helps reduce anxiety, lower blood pressure and regulate the heart.
- It helps you focus on tasks and sleep better.
- Meditation is not about religion, nor do you have to be religious to practice.
- Our mind is a muscle that needs training. Don’t expect results in one or two sessions
Tips to begin:
- Start in a quiet room. You can add calming music or soundscapes after you’ve mastered your breathing.
- Sit comfortably, on a yoga mat or your favorite chair. You don’t have to sit on the floor with your legs crossed.
- Close your eyes.
- Pay attention to your breathing. Breathe in slowly, follow the breath through your nose, down to your lungs. Feel how your shoulders, chest and belly move with each breath.
- Start with two minutes twice a day, then progress to five then 10 minutes.
- Once comfortable with your breathing, focus on your body parts being relaxed from top to bottom.
- Add a mantra, a phrase that calms you and reflects a goal or state of mind, such as “I am strong,” “I will overcome” or “I got this.” It doesn’t have to be religious or spiritual, but it can be, such as “Amen.”
- Sign up for guided or group meditation sessions to stay on track.
- Phone apps may be distracting, so place them far from your reach if you use them.